Proverbs 18:24 NASB
An important part of life is making, and maintaining, relationships with the right people. We’re not supposed to do life on our own. When we’ve got friends, we’ve got a support network and people to share the good and bad with. Being able to get along with other people and make good friends is a vital skill for us to have. Friendship requires time, energy, sacrifice, and investment. But we need to make sure that we’re being wise in working out which friendships to invest in. We shouldn’t be sharing the things we’re going through, or the big parts of our lives, with everyone. Solomon warns, ‘A man of too many friends comes to ruin.’ And not every so-called friend will prove to be one, as Jeremiah warned King Zedekiah: ‘They misled you and overcame you – those trusted friends of yours. Your feet are sunk in the mud; your friends have deserted you’ (Jeremiah 38:22 NIV). The wrong friend may betray us, as Judas did to Jesus. So here’s a good rule to remember: ‘Be friendly to everyone, but don’t have everyone as a friend.’ Solomon said, ‘The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray’ (Proverbs 12:26 NLT). If the advice our friends are giving to us isn’t so great, maybe we should be reconsidering our level of investment in the friendship. We need to choose friends wisely. The Hebrew word for ‘choose’ is tur, and in the Old Testament it refers to a man like a surveyor who searches out land. So if we’re wise, we’ll explore and evaluate our friendships before we enter into them.
Exo 10-12; John 1:14-28; Ps 131; Prov 26:7-9
Proverbs 18:24 NAS
With few exceptions, your success in life depends on your ability to establish and maintain relationships with the right people. According to a report by the American Management Association the overwhelming consensus of two hundred managers who participated in a survey, was that the most important skill of an executive is his or her ability to get along with people. They rated this ability as more vital than intelligence, decisiveness, knowledge, or job skills. Quite frankly, none of us makes very many true friends in life – at least, we better not! Solomon warns, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin.” Friendship requires time, energy, sacrifice, and investing yourself. And not every so-called friend will prove to be one, as Jeremiah warned King Zedekiah: “They misled you and overcame you – those trusted friends of yours. Your feet are sunk in the mud; your friends have deserted you” (Jeremiah 38:22 NIV). The wrong friend will betray you, as Judas proved with Jesus. So here’s a good rule of thumb: “Be friendly to everyone, but don’t have everyone as a friend.” Solomon said, “The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray” (Proverbs 12:26 NLT). Charles Spurgeon said, “A man is known by the company he shuns, as well as the company he keeps.” The Hebrew word for “choose” is tur, and in the Old Testament it refers to a man like a surveyor who searches out land. So if you’re wise, you’ll explore and evaluate your friendships before you enter into them. You say, “But I’m lonely.” As George Washington said, “It is better to be alone than in bad company.”
Soul food: Exo 10-12; John 1:14-28; Ps 131; Prov 26:7-9
Proverbs 23:7 NIV
With practice, you can become a good thinker. Observe two things: (1) Good thinkers have foresight. “The plans of the diligent lead to profit” (Proverbs 21:5 NIV). The word diligent means “to work, study, and plan.” You don’t stumble into success and figure it out afterward. Whether you’re in business or ministry, your level of success will increase dramatically if you place a high value on good thinking. Novelist Victor Hugo wrote, “A small man is made up of small thoughts.” People who don’t practice good thinking usually find themselves at the mercy of circumstances – or other people’s thoughts. Unable to solve problems, they find themselves facing the same obstacles over and over. And because they don’t think ahead they’re habitually in reaction mode. An old German proverb says, “Better an empty purse than an empty head.” Good thinkers overcome difficulties, including lack of resources, that often leave poor thinkers at the mercy of good thinkers. In As a Man Thinketh, James Allen says, “All that a man achieves or fails to achieve, is a direct result of his thoughts.” Do you believe that? If you do, you’ll place a high value on good thinking and make it a priority in your life. (2) Good thinkers look for the best, not the worst. They live by this scriptural principle: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).
Soul food: Mic 5-7; Mark 13:12-23; Ps 19; Prov 24:19-22
Philippians 4:8 NIV
The things we think about can have a huge influence on the way we live. If we’re thinking about worldly things, we’ll have a worldly focus to the way we live. If we’re thinking about God, we’ll have Him as the focus of our lives. It’s easy to say, but not quite so easy to put into practice. There are so many things that can determine how we’re thinking. Things distract us and take up our attention. Other people speak into our lives. And the enemy can feed us with lies which we start thinking are truths. Once our thoughts are on anything other than godly things, we’re in danger of our lives heading in the same way. The Bible tells us: ‘Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things’ (Philippians 4:8 NIV). If our mind has been distracted from thinking about these things, we can get it back on track. We can ask God to renew our minds. It takes some dedication and effort, but we can also test every thought we have against the truth of God’s Word. ‘Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV). We need to be reading God’s Word so that we know the truth. When we’re sure of the truth, we’ll find it much easier to recognise when our minds are being filled with lies instead. And we’ll be able to avoid being easily swayed by things other voices say. Instead we’ll be focused on God’s voice.
Mic 5-7; Mark 13:12-23; Ps 19; Prov 24:19-22
Proverbs 24:17 NLT
When someone else achieves something, we can end up feeling resentful. Maybe we wanted that success for ourselves, or maybe we feel threatened and insecure because someone’s done something better than us. But that’s not how God wants us to react. The Bible tells us to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice’ (Romans 12:15 NIV). We need to be celebrating people’s success, not resenting them because of it. And that includes celebrating the successes of those who’ve hurt us or the people we really don’t get on with. That can be pretty challenging. When we’re feeling hurt, betrayed or disappointed, it can be tempting to want that person to fail. There’s something in watching them fail that seems to make us feel better about the situation. But that’s not how we’re called to live. In Proverbs it says: Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall; don’t be happy when they stumble. And in Romans it goes as far as to say ‘bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse’ (12:14 NIV). We shouldn’t be wishing failure on those who’ve hurt us, instead we should be praying that they’d be blessed. When we’re hurting, that can seem unfair. We can wonder why we should pray for blessing on someone who’s hurt us. But God knows the whole situation, He sees everything, even the behind-the-scenes parts, so we can hand everything over to Him. We shouldn’t be wanting others to fail, or refusing to celebrate their success, but instead setting ourselves free from bitterness and resentment by forgiving people and asking God to bless them.
Josh 5:1-8:29; Mark 9:14-29; Ps 103:13-22; Prov 23:1-3