1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
2 Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;
an outsider, and not your own lips.
3 Stone is heavy and sand a burden,
but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.
4 Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
but who can stand before jealousy?
5 Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.
6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.
7 One who is full loathes honey from the comb,
but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.
8 Like a bird that flees its nest
is anyone who flees from home.
9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
and the pleasantness of a friend
springs from their heartfelt advice.
10 Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family,
and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you—
better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away.
11 Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart;
then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt.
12 The prudent see danger and take refuge,
but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
13 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger;
hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.
14 If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning,
it will be taken as a curse.
15 A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping
of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;
16 restraining her is like restraining the wind
or grasping oil with the hand.
17 As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
18 The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit,
and whoever protects their master will be honored.
19 As water reflects the face,
so one’s life reflects the heart.
20 Death and Destruction are never satisfied,
and neither are human eyes.
21 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but people are tested by their praise.
22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar,
grinding them like grain with a pestle,
you will not remove their folly from them.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION ®. NIV®. COPYRIGHT © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Why do you suppose relationships are so important in the pursuit of wisdom?
- If relationships have that much influence on us, why is it important to choose our friends wisely?
- What are some characteristics that you should look for in a friend?
- How can you be a good friend? (What examples from the text inform your answer?)
- Do your friends have permission to correct you? Why is that important? (see vv.5-6)
- Why is contentment important when it comes to the relationships you have? What happens if you are discontent?
- What are some ways that friendship reveals the heart? (What goes on inside a person is extremely important to God)
*This transcript is generated from the sermon audio. This document has not been edited for spelling, grammar, or exactness.
All right. And if you could please track down a Bible. There are Bibles in the rack in front of you, in the chair in front of you. We’re doing a series we’re wrapping up a series in the book of Proverbs. And today we’re in Proverbs chapter 27, which is on page 565 in our Bibles here. So what I’ll do is I’ll read the passage, we’ll pray and we will get to work. We’re going to go verses one to 22, just so you know where we’re heading. This is Proverbs chapter 27, starting in verse one, reads like this do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Let someone else praise you and not your own mouth an outsider and not your own lips. Stone is heavy, and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both. Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming. But who can stand before jealousy? Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses one who is full. Loathes honey from the comb. But to the hungry, even what is bitter tastes sweet. Like a bird that flees its nest is anyone who flees from home. Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt. Advice do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family. And do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you. Better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away. Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart. Then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt. The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. Take the garment of the one who puts up security for a stranger, hold it and pledge if it’s done for an outsider. If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse. A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm. Restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit. Whoever protects their master will be honored. As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes. The crucible for silver, the furnace for gold. But people are tested by their praise. Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.
Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you for your word. We thank you that by Your spirit, through Your word, you speak to us. We pray, God, that you would do that today, that we would hear the voice of the risen Lord. In these moments we pray for wisdom. Lord, we pray that you would help us to become a wise people. We pray for the practicalities of life. We pray for these relationships that we find ourselves in. We pray that we would be good friends and family members and neighbors. All for your glory. We pray in Jesus name, amen. Amen.
Some of the commentators noted that there’s a theme here. Obviously, Proverbs can kind of pull in a bunch of different random topics. But if you look at verses one to 22 of chapter 27, the theme running through the background is that of relationships, and it talks about family and friendships and neighborliness. And so we’re going to look at that today. And this week, my daughter’s school, well, both my kids, their schools opened up at lunchtime, and they invited adults and parents to come in and sit with the kids. And so Ash and I divided and conquered. She went to one school, I went to the other one. And I sat with Reese, and I was watching her interact. And Reese is just the sweet little girl that everyone adores. And so I’m watching her interact with her classmates. And then after the fact, I’m talking to her about it, and I’m like, hey, that girl that you spend so much time with, that you talk to, that you guys get along so well, tell me about her. And she’s like, oh, that’s my best friend. That’s my classmate best friend. And I was like, that’s interesting, because I see all these other girls. I’m like, it seems like your friend is very low maintenance. And she’s like, yeah, the other girls. And I love all of them, by the way. But the other girls, she’s like, yeah, the other ones can kind of be drama. And I was like, oh. And I was like, well, that’s smart of you. Obviously she gets along with everyone, but then she’s purposefully choosing to spend her time with one particular girl. And I said, Reese, you’re actually helping me write the sermon this week. Because that right there is what the Book of Proverbs is getting at when it talks about these friendships, it’s telling us the importance of choosing the company that we keep. Proverbs 13, verse 20 puts it like this walk with the wise and you will become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm here in our passage. It’s telling us about friendships. It’s telling us about relationships with neighbors and family members and friends. And it gives us a handful of things to consider. It tells us the friendships that we should avoid, the friendships that we should openly embrace, how to be a good friend, and even why all of this matters. So let’s get to work then.
RELATIONSHIPS TO AVOID
First. Relationships to avoid. It’s important that when we consider the associations that we have with other people, we would look at them and we would prayerfully discern who they are and what they’re about. And Proverbs warns us that it is important that we would keep close company with people who are wise, because that will be to our advantage. But fools we actually ought to distance ourselves from. So look at verses three and four. It tells us that we should be careful about those who are emotionally unstable. It says Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but fool’s provocation is heavier than both. Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming. But who can stand before jealousy when you see people who they are easily provoked and they have this emotional instability? Those are people that we need to be careful in our relationships with. In fact, I would say, if possible, those are people that we can safely distance ourselves from. Now, that’s not a possibility in every case. Some of you work with this person, right? You go to work tomorrow, they’re there. And you literally cannot change a vocation or change your department or things like that. But what I would say then is you have an obligation, according to wisdom, to learn how to carefully interact with that person. That person you ought to be attentive to the fact that though you relate to them, maybe you have healthier boundaries for these people, maybe you don’t open yourself up in the same way to them, because these are the people who can create havoc in your life. So you need to avoid those who in general are foolish and specifically here are emotionally unstable. Secondly, we need to avoid only allowing our friends to be distant friends, which is the point of verse ten. We need to be careful that we recognize the importance of proximity, because you don’t want people that you can only depend on that are far away, because honestly, they’re not as helpful as those who are nearby. That’s what verse ten is saying. Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family, do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you. Better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away. The purpose clause is given there at the end. It’s the fact that there is a need for somebody who is nearby. And instead of relying on a family member, a blood relative who’s distant from you, it’s the Bible saying here it is better to have somebody who is near to you. Now, we live in an interesting age where we’ve got all kinds of technology, and I’m grateful for that. Some of you have family members that are far away and people that you communicate with regularly on video chats and phone calls. That’s wonderful. I have a friend named Randall. I’ve been doing life with this dude for 20 years now, and he and his wife’s wedding, and he stood in my wedding. We did ministry together, we’ve been on trips together, we’ve done all kinds of different things, and we communicate quite regularly. But this verse, this idea of wisdom here reminds me there’s a limitation to what Randall can do for me as a friend. I absolutely call him and I tell him things that are going on, and I ask for prayer and those sorts of things. But the Bible reminds me that cannot be my relational safety net. I have to have somebody who is approximately close. I’ll give you one reason why. When I call Randall and I tell him what’s going on, he is always stepping into the situation cold. He doesn’t know what’s happening. And when I tell him what’s happening, what do we do? When we tell the story, we’re always at the center of it, and we’re either the hero or the victim. And if you’re not close enough to know there’s more to it than that, you’re not able to be totally helpful. So you need somebody who is a literal neighbor, who is in your life, in your community, because those are the people that are going to have that ability to see what’s really true and what’s really happening. And so we need to avoid only allowing our significant relationships to be distant. We need people who are close. We also need to avoid those who practice flattery. Look at verse 14. If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse. There’s the ability of somebody to speak words, of goodness, of blessing from God. They have the exact right words. But here’s what it’s saying. It’s the wrong tone and the wrong moment. And so it’s not actually what it appears to be at first glance, that sort of communication will be taken as a curse. It’s reminding us that we need to be careful about people’s true intentions and why they’re communicating. Some people are very charming and they’re speaking to us, and they’re giving us some incredible words. But if we discern through wisdom what’s really going on, we find out there’s more to it. Bruce Waltker puts it like this, “the unnatural voice and timing betrays this person as a hypocrite. No good will come of it.” When people are saying things that we just want to hear, but we become wise. We discern, okay, this person is not sincere. They might be communicating to me, but oftentimes what it is is it’s a form of manipulation. They’re saying things in a very kind and generous way, but you begin to recognize their intent is not my blessing, it’s something for their advantage. We need to be aware of these sorts of people. Finally. We need to be aware of choosing our significant other. Really only got one shot at this, so listen up. If you’re not there yet, this is important. Verse 15. And some of you were chuckling even as we read this earlier. A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm. Restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand. To find yourself in a relationship with a wife or a husband of this nature, it makes life uninhabitable. That’s the point there that to find yourself connected to somebody who is quarrelsome, it’s like living in a condition that is inhospitable where you’re living there and you’re like, I can’t do this. This is just a constant trouble for me. And then it’s unruly, so you can’t do anything about it. Look at verse 16. Trying to restrain a spouse like this is trying to stop the wind. Our dog just got a bath the other day and she’s so fluffy right now, it’s really weird looking. But she went out on the deck and she just stood there like a model and was blowing in the breeze. But if she tried to stop the wind, there’s no chance, right, for her to stop the wind or any of us to stop the wind, you can’t do that. So to find yourself in a situation like this with a spouse of this nature, there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s like restraining the wind or grabbing oil with a bare hand. So when we think about wisdom, we think about these relationships. It’s very, very important that we would consider the relationships that we keep close company with and we should choose very wisely those who we surround ourselves with. Well, secondly, we find out that there are relationships that we should embrace, so there are things to avoid. But now let’s consider some of the important relationships that we should move toward.
RELATIONSHIPS TO EMBRACE
The first thing that we find is that we want relationships where people can be honest, where they can speak to us and they can say things that are helpful in the sense that they are being honest about it. In verses one and two, it tells us that we want people who can praise us. And for that to happen, we would have to shut our own mouths and listen to what they have to say. Also, we would have to be praiseworthy. But verses one and two, do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. It’s a form of arrogance to be overly confident in who you are and what you intend to accomplish. And we need to have restraint here. In fact, James takes this verse and he applies it in the New Testament. He says, instead of boasting about tomorrow and all you intend to accomplish, you ought to qualify it by saying, if the Lord wills, I’m going to do this or that. But I’m not sure how this is going to play out because I’m not sovereign, I don’t know. So do not boast about yourself, do not self promote, but instead, verse two, let someone else praise you. Not your own mouth, an outsider, and not your own lips. What you want is to live a kind of life where other people see and notice and communicate so that the press is not coming from you, where you’re just self promoting saying, I’m great at this, I’m doing this, I’m doing this. But instead, other people are seeing it and taking note of it, and they’re communicating honestly about what’s truly going on. Now, one of the things I often encourage people to do because I think it’s such a helpful exercise, I encourage people to try to imagine their eulogy and try to think through what significant people in your life will say at your funeral, and you start to think in that direction. So my wife at my funeral, I hope she’s able to say some very kind and generous things. I don’t want her to be like, yeah, you guys all liked them, but you didn’t have to live with them, right? And maybe that’s true, but when you think about your eulogy and you think about the people that you work with, right? Like, people that have to deal with me on a regular basis, I don’t want them to be like, yeah, he was an okay preacher, but man, he was a bad human. You want to be able to think, okay, I want these praiseworthy things to come my way because people are being honest. And if what I desire to be said of me doesn’t align with what I imagine they would actually say, well, then there’s some work to do, right? But we want to be people who entrust ourself to people who are willing to speak those words to us, to be honest in that way, to be willing to give us that praiseworthy feedback. But also they have to be honest in this way too. You have to have people who can call you out, which is what verses five and six are about. Better is an open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. What is saying here is what you want is you want people in your life who have permission to speak honestly about the things that you need to change. You need people who are not being kind to you and multiplying kisses, but they’re being untruthful in the fact that they’re not willing to say the hard thing. So they care more about preserving the relationship than actually being helpful to you. You want somebody who’s going to openly rebuke you instead of loving you while hiding the truth from you. Now, let’s qualify this. Some of you love truth and you’re like, I will tell them. I will tell anyone what they need to hear. We need to be careful because these sorts of friends, they have earned this ability. They are the ones who actually care about you, and they’re not just going to say it just to get it out there. They’re going to say it in a manner where you’re most likely to receive it. That’s the kind of friend that we need. A person who has earned the ability to look in and say, hey, Core, this is something that is not right, and I love you too much to not say this and that will be very, very helpful. Their advice then becomes beautiful. Look at verse nine. Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart. The pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt. Advice. This kind of friendship is attractive. It’s beautiful, it’s pleasant, joyful, it’s good. That’s the kind of friendships that we want around here. Friendships that have the ability to be honest and truthful and friendships that have the ability to correct. And all of that done in this relationally beautiful environment. But these friendships, they will benefit us as they help us grow as well. Look down at verse 17. It says as iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another. It’s giving us this analogy here. But the relationships then become like a blacksmith who takes a piece of iron, places it on the anvil and what does he do? He heats it up. Then he lays it there and then he hits it and he hits it until he gets it into that shape of a blade or whatever the case might be. And then he takes that blade and he runs it against another piece of iron very aggressively. This is the picture of Christian community. Now it’s not always like this but we know this is one of the functions of what it’s like to open ourselves up to other people. It’s iron sharpening iron. It’s allowing this painful but beautiful and good experience to happen where God is making us more like His Son. And it is a traumatic thing. I mean you look at a blacksmith and you go, man that’s violent, right? And you look at some of the relationships and you go that’s rugged. But the end result is something beautiful, something purposeful and that’s what God is doing. I was thinking about it this week and I came to the conclusion you really can’t be a mature Christian in isolation. Now I know that that’s attractive and in fact I’ve had some conversations recently where people say I haven’t found a Christian community yet that I really like. So it’s just me and a couple of my people and the Lord, my Bible, my prayer time. And to that I keep pushing back on people and I say well if you want to become more like Christ it’s going to demand that you open yourself up to other people. And you’re not always going to perfectly agree with everybody in your community of faith. In fact, that’s a part of the process. God will mold you into Christ. But that happens in community, not in isolation. And in fact if you isolate you are robbing yourself of what the Lord is doing. The Lord did not isolate Himself from relationships. He moved toward people. And he says things like this as the Father sent me, I’m sending you. And he invites us into these deep and purposeful relationships where we can grow and become more like Christ. But it is a lot like iron sharpening iron. And so we subject ourself to the work of God. And we understand this is a beautiful thing, but it’s also painful. Now, how do we become good friends then?
HOW TO BE A GOOD FRIEND
What does this passage have to say to us about being good friends? Well, it tells us one thing we need to do is we need to learn to embrace the community that we have. We need to learn to be content with where God has placed us. Look at verses seven and eight. It says, One who is full loads honey from the comb, but to the hungry, even what is bitter tastes sweet. Okay, this is an interesting one. It sounds a lot like chapter five and a marriage relationship and finding satisfaction there. But here we’re talking about relationships in general. Here’s what’s going on. If you are satisfied, then you don’t look at other stuff and still have an appetite for it. That’s the point. If you find satisfaction in the community that God has placed you, you will be less likely to look elsewhere and think, that’s what I need. So my favorite beverage is called a turtle mocha, and it is a coffee drink with an awful lot of chocolate and caramel, or caramel, if you’re fancy, and hazelnut and whipped cream and drizzle and all the good stuff. My favorite things, dessert, ice cream, things like that, put together in a drink. Now, I told you last week there was a stretch in my life where I was in Africa for a month, and they have coffee shops there, they’re just not the same. So I would get a mocha and add caramel syrup and I would drink it and it would taste bitter and it wouldn’t be sweet because they don’t have the same setup there. But when you’re in Africa and you can’t go to a Starbucks, good enough, right? Like this will work. I need some caffeine. I’d love this drink, so I’m going to make it work. Now here’s what it’s saying. Relationships are kind of like that. If you find yourself discontent, you will look elsewhere to things that are bitter, to things that are not helpful, in fact, to things that are toxic. And you will imagine, that would be good for me. That’s good enough. What this is saying is you actually need to learn how to be satisfied with what God has given you. If you’re full, then you would even loathe additional honey. If you fill up on enough caramel mocha, another one doesn’t appeal to you. And that’s what it’s saying here. We need to learn to be content with what God has given us. Verse eight, like a bird that flees its nest is anyone who flees from home. It’s saying, some of us, we have a place that has been made for us, and then we depart from it thinking, there’s got to be something better out there. And what this is saying is when you do that, you are forfeiting the gift that God has given you. When you do that, you are actually stepping away from what God wants for you. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor during the time of Nazi Germany, and he was arrested and put in a prison camp, and eventually he was executed for his faith. But he wrote this little book called Life Together where he talks about Christian community. It’s a little book. It’s beautiful. I highly recommend it. But in there he talks about this thing that we’re discussing here. He talks about the fact that a lot of Christians will begin to romanticize Christian community and they begin to think about this idealized version of what they would prefer. And he says, that’s not healthy and it’s not helpful. When you start to imagine that there’s something better for you than what God actually gave you, you’re destroying what God has given you. Listen to this. This is the quote he who loves his dream of community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial. You fall in love with something that doesn’t exist and what you’re doing is you’re harming what actually does exist. God has given you a community, and we need to learn to be content with it. And in fact, we need to learn to become satisfied in it. But that does not come easily. Let me share with you some real time examples of situations that I’ve counseled people on. And there are numerous people in each of these categories, so I’m not picking on any particular person. You might think I had this conversation with you. Yes, you may have. I’m not singling you out. I’m singling out a lot of people here. Here’s the first one. This has happened repeatedly in our existence. People will say to me, this group, it’s nice, but one of the things that some people will express discontentment in is a lack of diversity. And they’ve said that to me. They look at the congregation, they go, It’s not really diverse. You look at it and whether that means ethnically or whether that means culturally or whether that means in terms of age. There are some people who say, yeah, I like this for the most part, but really it’s not diverse. Or the same thing. On the opposite end of the spectrum. This one’s more recent to me. Some people will look at us and they’ll go, what they long for is uniformity, especially in terms of worldview. So they look at us and they notice something. They notice a diversity of opinions on stuff and they go, I can’t believe that people from Park City Church think that way. I don’t even want to associate with that. The same issue. It’s the same thing on different ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, if somebody wants it to be really diverse and it’s not quite what they’re expecting so they’re like, I’m going to depart and find something better. On the other hand, you look at it and you go, well, these people are not like me, so I’m out of here. Both of those. What does that do to the community? It does harm. If you look at the community that God has given you and you resent it. If you’re discontent in it and you begin resenting it, that is not a healthy relationship where God is going to use that to grow you. God wants you to embrace the community that you have. Here’s another way that this shows up. The internet, right? It’s a weird thing. It does awful things to us. We look out there and we see the instagram feed of other Christian communities, which is the edited version, the curated version, the best version. And we go, I’d like to be a part of that because we imagine that that would satisfy everything that we want from a Christian community. Or here’s the last one briefly, a lot of people express an unwillingness to commit to the community. Again, it’s this idea that we live in an individualistic society. You start looking at a church and you go, yeah, I like it, but if something changes, I’m out of here. There’s nothing keeping me here. As long as I love it here, I’m here. But the moment it doesn’t go my way, I’m gone. And that reveals that you’re unwilling to move toward people in relationship and go through that process of iron sharpening iron. So we need to learn to be content with what God has given us. That’s what this verse is talking about. That’s what Bonhoeffer was saying. You need to look around and go, okay, these people, as messy as this might be, as unimpressive as you might think it is, really, it’s a beautiful gift from God. And these people, then I can move toward in love and sacrifice and in a willingness to open myself up in a way that would be beautiful and helpful. Well, let’s keep going. If we want to be good friends, we need to apply wisdom. Look at verse eleven. Be wise my son, and bring joy to my heart. Then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt. This is Father Wisdom talking, saying hey, why don’t you live this out? Because then if anyone looks at wisdom and they say, I’m not trying that they could look at you and the way that you deal with the Christian community and they could actually see something beautiful. And Father Wisdom says that would bring joy to my heart and that would answer anyone who thinks my way is foolish. In other words, it’s saying church. If you want wisdom to have credibility, let your life prove it. If you want wisdom to have credibility in the broader culture, live in a way that shows you’re committed to wisdom. In fact, in the New Testament it puts it like. This. It says, Wisdom will be proven by her children. Wisdom will be vindicated because it will have people who are living it out in a way that is beautiful and attractive. Fran Schaefer put it like this. He said, the Christian community is the apologetic of the gospel. It’s the defense of the gospel. It shows that the Gospel is both beautiful and credible. The Lord said, if by this all people will know that you’re my followers by how you love one another. In other words, Christian relationship becomes this environment where people can look and they can say, okay, there’s something different here. These people are living their faith out in real time and it makes the good news of the Gospel credible and beautiful. Let’s live in that way. The prudent. Verse twelve. The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pays the penalty. It’s saying, if you’re wise, you’re going to hear this and you’re going to make some adjustments. If you’re simple, you’re going to be sitting there right now going core is making a couple of good points. I have no intention of changing anything. I have no desire to rearrange my life around Christian relationships. That just sounds tedious. I’m doing just fine. I’m not going to make any adjustments here. The simple keep going and suffer for it. Wisdom says, okay, guys, if this is real, if we’re being called the Christian community, what would that look like? Let’s move toward that. Let’s sacrifice toward that end. Well. Verse 13 to do this, to be good friends, we would have to be trustworthy people that others can rely upon. Verse 13 take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger. Hold it in a pledge if it’s done for an outsider, saying, be the kind of person who, when an opportunity presents itself, you show up, you’re dependable, you’re reliable, you’re taking this thing on and you’re willing to carry it for an outsider, even somebody that you might look at and go, this is not my problem. I don’t need to involve myself here. But a wise and good friend sees an opportunity and says, okay, if there’s a need here and there’s something that I can do of assistance, I’m going to step in, I’m going to bless, I’m going to do what’s required of me because I am following the Lord who is my friend. Well, we need to also be relationally protective. Verse 18 the one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit and whoever protects their master will be honored. In other words, it’s saying, learn to be protective of healthy relationships. Learn to be protective of healthy relationships. If you guard a fig tree, then when the fig sprouts, you’re able to benefit from that. You’re there, you’re watching it, you’re caring for it, you’re tending it. In the same way, your relationships can be a source of your enjoyment. If you learn to guard and protect your relationships, you will experience honor, is what this verse is saying. So if you want to be a good friend, proverbs gives us all kinds of help here. But finally, as we come to our final point, which is why is this so important?
WHY THIS MATTERS
Why are relationships so significant? And I put it down in my notes like this relationships are the arena of God’s redemptive work. It’s the place where God is doing a spectacular thing in making us like Christ. It’s the environment of change. And you’re going to see that here in these final verses in chapter 27. Relationships are the arena of God’s redemptive work. It’s where he is molding us into the image of His Son. Relationships reveal what’s going on inside of us. Look at verse 19. As water reflects the face, the one’s life reflects the heart. So as water, you look in water, you can see your image coming back at you. This is saying within relationships, you will begin to experience that feedback of what’s going on on the inside. And the deeper you go in relationships, the more you have to deal with what’s true of you. I say to couples when I’m doing premarital counseling, I say to them, if you really want to become like Christ, get married. And if you really want to know the depth of your sinfulness, marriage will help you, right? Because in a lot of other relationships, you can manage and hide. You can put forth your best effort. In all these other environments, you get married, they’re always there, they see everything, right? So a relationship reveals what’s happening on the inside. It reveals your motivations, your selfishness, your tendencies. All this stuff is on clear display. What we find and proverbs points in this direction. What we often find on the inside is unpleasant, isn’t it? Verse 20 death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes. What we find in a relationship is often we are so selfish and we design everything to our advantage. And it reveals this about us. To be in a vulnerable relationship exposes that. And now we have to deal with it. What do I do with the fact that I am so self centered? Well, again, it keeps going. It tells us in verse 21, even praise will unearth this the crucible for silver, furnace for gold. But people are tested by their praise. When you start to receive the praise of other people, you start to see what your heart really worships. I think what it does then is it reveals these idols of the heart, the things that we want other people to say of us. All of a sudden, we have to deal with that. And we begin to recognize, wow, there are things that are really lording over my life. They’re in charge because I want them so badly. And the praise reveals that. It’s like the testing of silver or gold. It’s revealing the quality of the metal. And when you are praised and you begin to see what’s going on in your heart, it unearths the reality of the filth and the imperfections and all this stuff that is meant to be sifted away so that you might be beautified by Christ. But then it says this troubling, verse 22 though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them. Bummer, right? Like we just read a whole passage on friendships and relationships and avoiding fools and trying to be good friends. And we get to this point and we go, why does this all matter? Well, it matters because it’s showing what’s going on inside of me. And then it comes to this conclusion. But the fool doesn’t change. Even when you unearth all this stuff and you begin to recognize, wow, this is on the inside of me, you begin to realize no matter what happens, this is who I am, right? This is just the quality of my life. But what it’s getting at then is we need something better than some tips and tricks here, right? Dale Carnegie helpful as this stuff might be, it’s not going to get us where we need to go. Winning friends and influencing people. We’re not going to be able to strategize this. Here’s what we need the gospel, we need to be changed at the deepest of levels. We need to be changed at the heart. Walt Kaiser again says, words will not change a fool’s behavior. A Rod may coerce a person to do what is right, but it will not convert the heart. Punishing somebody or putting strict expectations and rules on them, it can create a behavior, but it’s not transforming the person. Divine grace that regenerates the heart is the fool’s only hope for salvation. US saying, hey, we’re going to try harder to be better friends with people, it’s not going to get us there. What we need is the work of God in our hearts. The divine grace that regenerates the heart, that’s our hope for salvation. And that’s what God is doing. He’s showing us our need and then he’s giving us the remedy in Jesus Christ. The good news of the gospel is such that if we trust in Him, he changes us from the inside out. He makes us a new creation. He gives us new hearts and new desires. He makes us people who are better friends, all for his glory. May it be so.
Let’s pray. Lord, we ask right now that you would change us from the inside out. Lord, we acknowledge that being in Christian community often reveals the icky stuff inside of us. And we don’t shrink back from that because we know that this is the redemptive environment where you are making us more like Christ. You are giving us the honesty to face what’s real, and you are giving the grace to know that you love us even still. So change us by that powerful news of salvation. Help us to be better friends, closer neighbors. More like Christ. All for his glory we pray in his name. Amen.