Choosing Friends Wisely
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.- Proverbs 22:24–25
Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22–23 that self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit. One of the evidences of the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a man or woman is that said individual begins to display a remarkable degree of restraint, a willingness to hold back and not fly off the handle at every single provocation. Such people understand that there is a place for righteous anger (Eph. 4:26), and they do not confuse minor irritations with justified and necessary anger at injustice and falsehood.
Individuals who are perpetually angry at the world set themselves up for destruction. Being unable to get along with anyone, they have no place to turn when they are in true need. They routinely lose job opportunities, bring disgrace upon their families, and cause all sorts of other problems. Those who walk by the Spirit will not be given over to such anger; however, that does not mean they will necessarily escape all of the trouble that those with a temper can cause. Proverbs 22:24–25 reminds us of this fact, warning us to stay away from those who are “given to anger” and whose disposition can be classified as “wrathful.”
Today’s passage has hotheaded individuals in view, and it warns us about the dangers of those who cannot control their anger lest we get caught up in the collateral damage that follows in their wake. If we are not careful and discerning, we can entangle ourselves “in a snare” (v. 25) if we become too closely associated with individuals who can always find a reason to be angry no matter the circumstances in which they find themselves. This should be obvious from our experience. The friends of a bully often end up in fights that they did not start because they are with a pal who cannot hold back his ire. Every day, people get hurt physically and emotionally when their perpetually angry friend turns on them unexpectedly. Examples could be multiplied, but the point is that becoming too close with people who show no interest in controlling themselves can lead to horrible consequences.
However, Proverbs 22:24–25 warns us about the perpetually angry person not only to keep us from suering the collateral damage such an individual may cause, but also to help us not become like such a person. We are inevitably shaped by our friends, and if those around us are always angry, it is almost certain that we will end up the same way (v. 25). Our spiritual growth can be set back significantly if we associate too closely with ungodly people. Therefore, we must be discerning in all of our relationships.
Today’s passage is not a call for us to withdraw entirely from the world (1 Cor. 5:9–10); rather, it is a wise admonition for us to be discerning in our friendships. It is one thing to be friends with a person who has a bad temper, understands his problem, and is working to get it under control, but it is something far different to be friends with one who shows no understanding of his anger and who does not care in the least to control it. May we be wise in choosing our friends.
Passages for Further Study