Everyone needs friends. Your son needs good friends!
Welcome to a special four-part series in time for Father’s Day! This post describes how fathers help sons build true and lasting friendships.
Dr. Ron Allchin, D.Min., founder and executive director of BCC, wrote Growing in Wisdom: A Bible Study in Proverbs for Fathers and Sons, a book that makes a great Father’s Day gift.
You may purchase Dr. Allchin’s book in two formats: Kindle and paperback (8.5 by 11-inch workbook). Income from book sales benefit BCC’s work in counseling the hurting, training leaders, and developing new resources.
Father, Your Son Needs Good Friends
Dad, you’ve warned your son to avoid evil companions. Now counsel your son how to make quality friendships. Your son needs good friends. You can guide him to build true and lasting friendships. .
A True Friend Helps
Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity.Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away. Proverbs 27:10, ESV
A friend, or even an older friend of the family, was not to be neglected by the sons; a friend nearby would be more available to help in times of trouble than a brother who lived far away. Mutual help is implied as two families lived near each other and often helped each other.
Quite naturally their mutual friendship would grow, perhaps finally reaching the ideal of friends sticking closer than brothers (18:24). This type of friend should be cherished. In fact, it is sin not to love him (14:21).
A True Friend Loves at All Times
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17
A friend and a brother are equal sources of strength and encouragement in times of trouble. The true friend and the brother will both love and be willing to help at all times, whatever the circumstances, in good times and in hard times. The wise son not only desires to have this kind of friend, but is also willing to be this kind of friend.
A True Friend Counsels Well
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. Proverbs 27:9, ESV
It seems that everyone will give counsel, but not everyone gives wise, godly counsel. This man’s friend did just that, and it led to a sweet or pleasant result.
Hearty counsel is paralleled in this passage to “perfume and ointment,” with “joy and rejoicing in one’s heart” resulting from the counsel.
Some sons fail to use their parents as a primary source of wise counsel. Most parents stand ready to counsel their children into wise decisions. Parental counsel is often handed down from other godly people to the parents. Parents often learn from trial and error in their own lives. These experiences over many years make them better prepared to give good advice than a son’s peers. Sons may find that the counsel of their peers agrees more with their own desires, yet may lead to heartache and more problems. A wise son won’t get caught following the poor counsel of peers as Rehoboam did after rejecting the wise counsel of the older men. (1 Kings 12:1-17).
A True Friend Forgives
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9, ESV
To “cover over” means to be silent about a matter rather than to repeat it. When one covers a transgression he is silent about an offense and is practicing forgiveness. He that is not silent separates close friendships.
To practice forgiveness means to keep silent in three areas:
1. He will be silent to the offending party by not bringing up the offense to him again.
2. He will be silent to others, not repeating the offense to others not involved.
3. He will keep silent to himself, not reviewing the offense in his own mind.
To apply these principles promotes love between the two parties involved in an offense. Love “covers” all sins (10:12). It is to a man’s glory to forgive rather than to become angry over an offense (19:11).
A True Friend Is Honest
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:6
The ability to take personal criticism that causes pain depends to a large degree upon the relationship one has with the criticizer. A faithful friend tells you your fault because he is committed to you and desires to help rather than hurt you.
He is just like a parent whose discipline inflicts hurt for a time but ultimately reaps positive results (20:30; 19:18). The Hebrew word describes this friend as one who “loves,” one who is motivated to help his intimate friend to strengthen his character. His openness and honesty which may cause a wound for now is intended to produce positive rather than negative responses. In a healthy, growing friendship, each friend “sharpens” the countenance of the other by strengthening the inner character and emotions that shine out through the face, even as iron smooths out rough spots in another piece of iron (27:17). Proverbs 28:23 says that in the end this friend will be appreciated more than the one who flatters and says the fault is really okay.