5 Traits of a Good Friend (according to Proverbs)

All of us want to have good friends. Most of us also want to be good friends!  Friendship is deeply important to our lives. Some research shows that loneliness increases the risk of heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, arthritis, and suicide. One study found that the health risks of loneliness are worse than the risks of high blood pressure, lack of exercise, and smoking!

On the other hand, the Bible tells us that good friendships strengthen our walk with God and make our lives better in many ways (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Hebrews 10:23-25).

Friendship is one of the major themes of the book of Proverbs. King Solomon warned his son to avoid spending time with people who would lead him astray, and instead to seek out people who would encourage him to be wise and godly. Solomon’s advice is just as relevant for us today as it was for his son thousands of years ago.

So what makes for a good friend, according to Solomon?

First, a good friend is godly:

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20).

In the book of Proverbs, of course, wisdom is synonymous with godliness. As Proverbs 1:7 tells us, the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Wise friends walk with God, and they encourage us to walk with Him also.

We are all influenced by the people we spend time with, so Solomon tells us to spend our time with those who will encourage us to trust and obey God.

Second, a good friend is honest:

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6).

Good friends are willing to tell you the truth, even when it might hurt. They aren’t deliberately cruel or insulting, but they aren’t afraid to say what you need to hear, instead of only what you want to hear. If there is an area of your life in which you need to change, they kindly and directly tell you so.

Third, a good friend is trustworthy:

“The one who goes about gossiping reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with someone who is always opening his mouth” (Proverbs 20:19).

Solomon isn’t saying that good friend will hide a body for you, or conceal your criminal activity. A good friend isn’t obligated to be your accomplice when you are actively hurting other people or trying to get away with something nefarious.

Instead, he’s saying that a good friend doesn’t trumpet all of your struggles and sins to everybody else. A good friend is wise enough and discreet enough to understand that spiritual growth often requires a safe place to talk about our struggles, sins, and trials. A good friend knows how to keep a confidence when it is appropriate to do so.

On the other hand, if a person is a gossip, constantly opening his mouth to share other people’s secrets, beware.

Fourth, a good friend is respectful:

“Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor’s house, or he will become weary of you and hate you” (Proverbs 25:17).

Put simply, good friends know how to respect boundaries. They understand that friends don’t have to be together 24 hours a day. Good friends know that people need more than one friend, so they aren’t jealous when you spend time with other people.

Good friends understand that closeness actually requires a degree of distance. They know that God can work in another person’s life even when they aren’t together all the time.

In a nutshell, good friends are secure and self-differentiated.

Fifth, a good friend is faithful:

“Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble” (Proverbs 25:19).

“A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).  

A good friend shows up when you need him. He is willing to drop what he’s doing to rescue you when your tire goes flat in the middle of nowhere. He is there in the midst of your trials and grief, and not only in the midst of your joys and successes.

A good friend is willing to forgive, even as she tells you the truth about how you need to change. She defends your reputation when other people are slandering you.

A good friend sticks with you even when it might be tough to do so. In short, a good friend is like Jesus, our perfect and faithful eternal Friend.

As you read these traits of a good friend, ask yourself two questions:

Do I have friends like this?

Am I a friend like this?

God, help us become the sort of friends who help our friends be more like Jesus!!

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