Thursday, June 07, 2012

A Woman's Wisdom, by Lydia Brownback: Part 4

Today we are continuing on with our discussion of A Woman's Wisdom: How the Book of Proverbs Speaks to Everything, by Lydia Browback.



Before we begin today's discussion, let's take a peek at the following verses:

The righteous should choose his friends carefully
For the way of the wicked leads them astray
(Prov. 12:26)

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
(Prov 13:20)

I really loved that Brownback included a chapter about friendship in her book. Since women are by nature more social and relational, I think it quite fitting that Brownback address the issue of how to choose friends wisely and well. As is the case with every subject matter in our lives, the Lord is to be the Lord over it all. If we think for one moment that He does not care who we bind our hearts together with, then we are fools indeed.

Not every friendship needs to be formed only after lengthy consideration. Some do, however, and those are the sort we are going to focus on in this chapter. By friend, we mean someone to whom we choose to entrust our hearts. We can rightly apply the word friendship to many of our relationships, but what we want to cover here are the sort we choose to let into our hearts and lives to the degree that they can significantly influence us. (Chapter 4, Wise Women Choose Friends Carefully, page 78)

I should probably confess to you right here and now that I'm a "quality vs. quantity" personality when it comes to establishing friendships. While I am perfectly happy and perfectly capable of being friendly towards a large number of people, there are precious few who I share my heart and "real life" with. I do acknowledge that my friends significantly influence me - and I want them to. Therefore I'm rather cautious about who I let in to my "inner circle." I want to say that straight up because I think of all of the subjects which this book addresses, this is a pet topic because it's easy for me to agree with and "comply" with the teaching.

That confessed, I am also just as capable of messing up when it comes to choosing those close friends and so I need to take heed and seek out friendships with the character qualities which God says are desirable in a friend. (I'm not done learning yet! Also, I'm now on the teaching end in explaining to children what they should look for in a friend.)

In discussing this subject, Brownback first cautions her reader against pitfalls in friendship and since I found her to be quite thorough, (and painfully convicting), we'll just take a look at what she had to share. She implores her reader to examine their hearts when choosing a friend and taking care that they are not making their selection for any of the following reasons:

1. We do not want to form a friendship based on a sinful desire. For example, if we know we have a tendency to sin in a particular manner, we should take care not to develop friendships with another who has the same issues and also who refuses to deal with them. Practically speaking, if you have an issue creating and spreading gossip, you would want to avoid those who have the same tendencies so that you can avoid this sin, etc.

2. We should not create friendships for ego building purposes. If we're only spending time with someone because they flatter us and make us feel really happy all of the time, there is a problem.

Do not associate with one who flatters with his lips. (Prov. 20:19 NKJV)

3. We should not try to find our identity in other people. If we are following after a person because we believe they complete us and help define us, then we are terribly misled. Our freedom, completion and identity are to be found in Christ alone. If you require too much out of your friendships so as to make you feel whole and complete in some way, you are likely the smothering type and need to spend more time in prayer and the scriptures.

4. We should not be friends with someone because of their material assets. Fun parties, the number of blog followers, nice clothes and/or social status should not be a determining factor in whether or not we have a close relationship with another.

5. We should not be close friends with angry people.

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. (Prov. 22:24-25)

Close association with the proud, whose pride is revealed by their chronic anger, is always a danger to our hearts, because we are all proud by default. Living close to Christ is the only way to keep pride from regaining its mastery. (Chapter 4, Wise Woman Choose Friends Carefully, page 83)

6. We should not be friends with those who are self-indulgent- those who lack self-discipline and who have a constant desire to please themselves.

So, now we know what type of red flags to look out for when consciously choosing a close friend. What type of thing or things should we be looking for, to join our hearts to?

The following is a long-ish excerpt from the book, but I think it is very much worth a read:

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
(Prov. 27:17 NKJV)

The primary criterion for choosing a friend is whether the relationship, overall, brings us closer to the Lord. Hopefully, as you consider the proverb, you can readily identify a friend or two who fits the description. I don't mean that you do nothing but read Scripture and talk about spiritual things when you get together. I mean, rather, that after you have spent time together, your view of God is bigger and more joy filled, and you find yourself motivated to know God better. Of course, in such a friendship where will naturally be much conversation about spiritual things, as well as open accountability about struggles with sin; but even after lighthearted get-togethers - a day at the zoo or a a trip to the mall - when nothing of great depth is discussed, you find your heart filled with gratitude to God for the friendship.

A simple question to ask ourselves about the nature of a particular relationship is this: Does it cause me to flourish or diminish, both as a woman made in the image of God and in my walk of faith? If the relationship is a wise one, both people will be edified spiritually.

A wise woman isn't afraid to befriend those who speak up about sin. In fact, she gravitates toward such friendships because those who are honest about sin - their own and their friends' - tend to care more about what God thinks than about being popular. (Chapter 4, Wise Women Choose Friends Carefully, page 85)

Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest
counsel. (Prov. 27:9)

Now, I personally know that sometimes the well of friendship seems to be very dry. Maybe you've just moved. Maybe your life has turned upside down and you've recently discovered that those who you thought were friends really aren't. We have all experienced these moments at one time or another. It can be very discouraging to feel friendless. I have bemoaned this particular condition a time or two and it is harsh. There is no denying that feeling of loneliness. Therefore, I absolutely LOVED the fact that Brownback acknowledges that you might not have anyone in your life right at this moment who you feel is qualified to be a close friend to you. She urges you (as I do also) not to give up hope if this is the case. For one thing, you DO have a friend in Christ. He will walk beside you on the lonely road. Secondly, she encourages her reader to take heart, keep hope and keep looking for a friend who meets the qualifications. It may take awhile for you to meet such a friend but keep trying! There is someone, somewhere who will foot the bill. In the meantime, be friendly with many but be wise in your sharing.

I'll conclude with this from Brownback:

So many of those we call "friends" pass through our lives in a season or two. What bonded us in the first place - those areas in which our lives intersect - change over time, and then the relational glue not longer holds. Or one of us grows spiritually while the other does not. Friends will let us down, and we will let them down too I've heard it said that if we get to old age with two or three friendships that have survived all of life's changes, we should consider ourselves rich in friends. Jesus, however, is the ultimate friend and the only one who will never let us down. And this is a friendship that all wise women embrace. "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15: 15)


I am pleased to announce that Crossway Books has offered up one copy per day of this book to be given away to one of you! Today's winner is: Alison.


To read the rest of this week's discussion, click on the following links:


Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

This is timely for me because I'm feeling rather friendless in my real life. Thanks, Carrie!

Shonya said...

Oh Carrie! sniff, sniff This is wonderful and I am so missing a couple of my true "iron-sharpening-iron" friends since we moved. The Lord has not yet provided those special friends for me here, but thanks for sharing these words of encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Every day I get more and more excited about this book. Thanks for introducing me to it!
Count me in again!

shostagirl AT gmail DOT com

Emmy D said...

Friendship really isn't a topic you hear a lot about - I'd love to read the whole chapter. As she mentioned in the passage you close with here, friends who are no longer playing a part in one's life has been pretty discouraging to me for a while, but Brownback's words are very encouraging!

Bluerose said...

I'm pretty sure I could use the encouragement from this chapter. Should I admit I got a little emotional just reading it?

Sherry said...

Yes, I still want to read it! :)

I really appreciate these words on friendship and can relate to the many facets you discussed.

Barbara H. said...

The last paragraph especially spoke to me this time. I used to feel bad about one friendship with another couple that seemed to only flourish when circumstances put us together, like when we were working in the same children's ministry. When we weren't, they seemed content to let the friendship drift, and my attempt to keep in touch seemed cloying. But then I just decided to let it go. It's comforting to think that maybe its purpose was just for a season.

Diary of an Autodidact said...

Bonus points to the author for distinguishing between close friends and casual friends - and to you for the same.

It is easy to go to the extreme on either side: picking close friends poorly and being led astray, and limiting one's entire acquaintance (and the scope of one's love) to those who we agree with completely.

Sarita said...

Good point about using these proverbs to teach our children how to make friends!

Alison said...

Add me!

Anonymous said...

ouch! speak less...yes very true!

Annette Whipple said...

After about many friendless years, I finally have a few Christians that I can call friends...and we do sharpen and encourage one another. It's still hard to be a hotly friend. This chapter sounds like another winneryo examine our hearts and motives.

BerlinerinPoet said...

Don't add me, Carrie because I have a copy already and wouldn't want to take away this opportunity to win from all these lovely people.

This chapter got to me because it differentiates from casual and close friends. I have a problem with calling everyone "friend." In my head I DO delineate between those I share my heart with and those I just hang out with occasionally, but sometimes I have trouble keeping them separate. So, I remember feeling very enlightened by this chapter.

Monica said...

like you I am friendly to a wide variety of folks however, I don't bring people into my inner circle very easily. With the business of home and family I don't invest time in cultivating friendships at this time in my life. I have in the past and not made very wise decisions on who I let in. I currently have one GOOD friend that I share with

Amy B. said...

Thanks for bringing this book to our attention & for the giveaway opportunity.

Annette Whipple said...

Just had a thought...the blogs we read can certainly come into play here. And I thank you, Carrie, for providing a place where women can come and read honest and open thoughts on sin and don't apologize for your convictions and site where they come from...thank you for being iron that sharpens iron...even in blog form, let alone real life. :)

Lisa Spence said...

I've read Lydia's devotionals "Joy" and "Contentment", both are very good. I'd love to read this one as well!

And, about friendship, I do not make friends easily, whether it's because I'm weird or because I'm an introvert or a combination thereof. As such I found your points here very helpful and encouraging. Thanks!

Jessica B. said...

I really want to win!

bekahcubed said...

As a very goal-oriented gal, I can have a tendency to forget about relationships in the quest to get things done. This means that my default friendships tend to be shallow. Even though this post focuses more on choosing wisely who you have deep relationships with, this also reminds me that those deep relationships are important and worth investing in.

I am blessed to have a few of those friends who fit the above criteria (or don't fit the above exclusions) and this reminds me that I might need to add a new goal to my list: developing deep relationships with these women who spur me on towards love and good deeds.

Anonymous said...

This book looks amazing! so glad i dropped by today. If I would win I would give it to a young friend in our church who is about to move far away as her husband attends Bible college. This would be a blessing I am sure!

Jen N
artandjen at

apple blossom said...

thanks for sharing with us. love to win this book

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the giveaway. A very interesting book.

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