Here are character traits that we’re better off avoiding.
It wasn’t too long ago that my daughter, aged 6, came home from spending a weekend at Abuela’s. She ran down the list of all the fun things she did and concluded that she had a new friend that she played at the local park with. I thought to myself, friend…really?
My daughter has yet to understand what a friend truly is, for the term friend is an unusual term nowadays, considering how social media has commandeered the term. Everyone is a friend. On social media, you can have hundreds and thousands of friends but what is a friend exactly?
Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines friend: One who is attached to another by affection; one who entertains for another sentiments of esteem, respect and affection, which lead him to desire his company, and to seek to promote his happiness and prosperity; opposed to foe or enemy. The entry in the dictionary states that a friend loveth at all times, a friend is one who is not hostile, someone who has sufficient interest to serve another. Google had their own summation of what a friend is: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.
Therein lies the problem.
As a parent, I’m mindful of who my children call friends. I encourage them to be a friend but will remind them that not everyone they call a friend is, in fact, a friend. As we age into maturity and wisdom, we understand that not everyone should be labeled a friend simply because we share a common interest. Discerning friendship and all it encompasses takes time to refine, especially as we long for friendships that are meaningful and significant. The Bible has much to say about who we should avoid as it relates to keeping company with others. Discerning who the scorner, the simple, the proud, and the whisperer are will help us navigate through the muddy waters of friends lists.
The Scorner (nickname the Mocker)
(Proverbs 14:6; Proverbs 15:12; 2 Peter 3:3; Numbers 14:27)
The mocker is one who will ridicule spiritual matters and attack God’s authority. The mocker possesses a critical spirit that ultimately rejects the Lordship of Jesus Christ over their lives. Oftentimes, subtle humor is their means of scorning. We may laugh at their remarks and may momentarily side with them.
Perhaps one of the most tragic characteristics of the mocker is the rejection of any reproof or admonition. Without reproof or admonition, it’s almost impossible for the mocker to see themselves as a sinner in need of a Saviour. Their heart is hardened and any fellowship you may have with the mocker will likely vex your soul. The mocker is not equipped to spiritually sharpen you.
Take great caution as to not allow the mocker to plant the seed of dissent in your spiritual life. We can only pray that God, in His way and in His time, will soften that hardened heart while we maintain a spiritually healthy distance as we allow the Holy Spirit to perform the work in their hearts.
The Simple (nickname the Compromiser)
(Prov 7:7; Prov 14:15, 18)
Compromisers are abundant. They’re even found in our church as perhaps active members, frequently participating in a variety of ministries. These talk a good talk. However, outside the of church, their lives contradict what is acceptable before a Holy God. They are in tune with all that is socially accepted rather than what the Bible calls believers to be: separate from the world, dying to self for the honor and glory of our Lord Jesus.
For many compromisers, the adoption of a pragmatic worldview leads them to live a duplicitous lifestyle. Much of their decision-making is devoid of God’s will & direction and it contradicts what scripture identifies as our reasonable service (Rom 12:1-2).
Despite their efforts to identify as Christians, their hearts have conceded to an anti-biblical approach on choosing friends, musical and film tastes, relationships, and fundamental points of biblical doctrine.
The backslidden state compromisers find themselves in is reflected in all these things and more. Only through the work of the Holy Spirit can they one day bring forth the fruit that a mature and growing Christian can produce through God’s grace.
The Proud (nickname the Arrogant)
(Psalms 17:10; Psalms 31:18; Proverbs 6:17, Proverbs 21:4)
The prideful are quick to identify what others lack in their lives and they use those instances to lift up their perceived notions of success. They regularly characterize themselves as the more spiritual, capable, qualified of the group, citing their credentials or experiences as proof for why they are the best among us. Seldomly do they recognize the need to humble themselves for the benefit of a relationship that may be enduring strain or brokenness.
Humility and meekness evade the proud while vanity swells into an arrogance that is displayed with their curt, brutish, and ungracious words for others. This arrogance stifles spiritual growth as they inherently seek to be served rather than serve others. Their personal well being remains their foremost priority while acts of service are deemed a drudgery.
A heart transformed by the gift of salvation is not one filled with pride, conceit, or arrogance. On the contrary, it is filled with humility, meekness, and love, much like Saul, before his conversion on the road to Damascus. Jesus Christ deemed it necessary to humble Saul before using him to advance the gospel. When God chooses to humble the proud it likely will come at a cost.
The Gossip (nickname the Whisperer)
(Proverbs 10:14, 18, 23; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 15:2, 7; Proverbs 16:28)
The gossiper is gratified by their unrestrained meddling in other people’s business. They possess an appetite for scandal and have feet quick to run to social media to satiate their hunger for the latest rumor or failure of someone. The more they invest in catching up on the latest, the more driven they are to tear more into others, instead of building others up with kindness, encouragement, wisdom, or care. Their preoccupation with gossip hinders their ability to forge a meaningful relationship in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The gossip takes little notice that they are talking down about others with unsubstantiated hearsay. They frequently cross boundaries and networks to collect such information. They pride themselves on executing so-called fact-finding missions that render no eternal value. Sadly, the gossip does not value a confidence and is insensitive to privacy or friendship because they prove themselves time and again to be untrustworthy. The gossip lives a very lonely life in that they do not have genuine relationships with genuine people. They use others and are used by others as well. That is the extent of their mutual contribution to the lives of others for their venomous tongue puts them at a dire disadvantage for any reasonable service for the Lord Jesus Christ.
We all suffer moments of character failure but as we discern the spirits to see if they are of God, we must constantly self-examine our intentions, our speech, and our deeds. May it always be found acceptable and may we teach it to the least of those among us.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12: 1-2