24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,What do you think of, when I say the word "friend"?
do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn their ways
and get yourself ensnared.
Does your mind go back to a childhood buddy that shared hours of mud-puddle fun with you? To a teen companion that weathered the turbulent years with you? To a person who is a vital part of your life today?
Friends add so much meaning to our lives. They can bring joy to us, share our problems, and add to our experiencing the world around us. What would we do if great things happened in our lives -- a child graduates, we get a new job, we are honored with an award -- and there was no one to share the news with?
In contrast, what can give you more relief in a time of grief or frustration than talking to a friend? Friends can be mirrors; they can be sounding boards, and they can even be guideposts.
Choosing a friend is not an easy task . . . it is vitally important to be careful when we choose the people who we will associate with. The Assyrians were a nation that Solomon was familiar with, and they repeated an old proverb that said, "Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are." Later on in Proverbs (27:17) we'll see that just as "iron sharpens iron," so our friends shape who we are.
Sometimes I wonder as I read certain verses if Solomon was speaking from personal experience. Perhaps he knew someone who was "hot-tempered" and easily angered. Perhaps he had needed to take care, so that he, Solomon, was not greatly influenced by that person, and did not become trapped by that type of behavior.
What can happen to a person easily angered? How can they be "ensnared"? Well, one thing that can happen is that they lash out in their anger and say or do something to hurt other people --- even people that they love. In the moment that their anger is white-hot, they may not even realize what they say, or how they say it. When the tempest subsides, they will need to make amends - if they can. Secondly, a hot-tempered person can damage their own health. Jumping to conclusions and getting angry raises the blood pressure and sets off chemical reactions within the body. It takes time to repair those damages, too.
It's a fine line that we walk, as Christians. We want to help others, and assist them in discovering Christ and living for Him. At the same time, we need to insure that our friends -- the people we spend the most time with, and the people that we bare our hearts to -- are friends that encourage us to reveal the best within us, not ones that influence us to "learn their ways" and become ensnared in sin. Good advice from an ancient king.