7. Reputation and Friends
The overseer then must be above reproach . . . . And he must be well thought of . . . . (1 Timothy 3:2, 7)
According to Proverbs 22:1, what is better than wealth?
When you marry a man, you share his name and the reputation that goes with it. Make sure it is a name that you will be proud to share.
A man who wants to impress a woman may hide some aspects of an unpleasant character from her, or temporarily subdue them without any intent of lasting change. Though he may fool you, it is unlikely that he will fool everyone with whom he has contact. Therefore, it is wise to pay attention to what other people say about a man whom you are getting to know, particularly people who have known him prior to your acquaintance with him. A man’s reputation may either confirm good character that you have observed or reveal problem areas that you have missed.
Read Proverbs 20:11.
God is in the business of transforming people, so it is not always fair to assume that a man who did not walk in integrity as a child or youth will not have changed. Still, it is a good idea to consider what people who have known him for a long time think of him and to watch for signs of bad behavior patterns that may still linger.
What positive things have you heard from people who have known your boyfriend longer than you have?
What negative things have you heard from people who have known your boyfriend longer than you have?
In each of the following verses, find the things that help a man to build a good reputation.
· Proverbs 3:3-4
· Proverbs 12:8
· Proverbs 16:13
· Romans 14:17-18
· John 12:26
· 2 Timothy 2:15
· 1 Peter 2:12
Then answer these questions about the kind of reputation your boyfriend is building now:
· Does he have truth and mercy written on the tablet of his heart?
What does that mean?
· What do other people say about his mind?
· Is he known as a righteous, upright man?
· Has his lifestyle earned him the approval (respect) of other godly men?
· Does he make time in his schedule to serve God?
If yes, how?
· Does he accurately interpret and apply the Scriptures?
· How does his lifestyle reflect on God—does he bring God honor or shame?
According to Proverbs 20:7, a man’s good reputation will extend to ________________.
For their sake—and yours—do not marry a man who has not earned the favor of other Christians whose opinion you value and respect. Give your children a last name they can be proud to carry.
If you have not heard other people talking about the man you are considering, ask people what they think of him—when he is not around, so they will be frank. Be sure that you ask people who have had extensive contact with him so you are not just collecting first impressions, which can be misleading.
The righteous person is cautious in his friendship,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray. (Proverbs 12:26)
Friends can be a wonderful blessing in a man’s life if he chooses them well. When you are getting to know a man, get to know his friends, also. Listen carefully to what he tells you about them; observe his interactions with them.
List the benefits of having good friends found in the following verses:
· Psalm 14:5
· Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
· Proverbs 13:20
· Proverbs 27:6
· Proverbs 27:9
Then answer these questions about the man in whom you are interested:
· What evidence do you see that God is present when he is with his friends?
· Do he and his friends help each other when one of them needs assistance with something?
· Do his friends give him good advice?
Does he give his friends good advice?
· Are any of his closest companions fools?
Friends can be a very bad influence in a man’s life if he chooses them poorly.
What reason does the Apostle Paul give in 1 Corinthians 15:33 for not choosing his closest friends—those with whom he spends the most time and has the greatest camaraderie—from among ungodly men?
According to the following verses, what kinds of “friends” should a man avoid close companionship with?
· Proverbs 10:17
· Proverbs 16:29
· Proverbs 22:24-25
· Proverbs 23:20-21
· Proverbs 24:21-22
· Psalm 1:1
· Psalm 101:4-7
· 1 Corinthians 5:11
The Bible does not instruct us to be so exclusive in our friendships that we never associate with “bad company” at all. Jesus, himself, spent time with sinners, but it was always with the intent of calling them to repentance and change. Often we have to befriend someone in order to lead him or her to Christ.
In your boyfriend’s associations with ungodly or unwise men or women, does he influence them for good, or do they influence him for evil?
Jesus’ closest companions—His disciples—were not perfect men, but they were men who desired to know truth and to grow in wisdom.
Do you see these qualities in the men whom your boyfriend counts as his closest friends—those who have the greatest influence in his life?
The very best friend that a man can have is God. There are far too many men who learn a lot about God without ever becoming God’s friend. Read Jesus’ words in John 15:14 and James’ account of Abraham in James 2:21-23.
Then describe how one becomes a friend of God:
In light of this, is your boyfriend God’s friend? _____ Why or why not?
In order to have friends, one must also be a friend. Proverbs 18:2 and 20:5 contrast a man who invites confidences with a man who does not.
Explain the difference.
Read Proverbs 18:1 and 1 Peter 4:9-10.
These verses suggest another contrast between men who are friendly and men who are not. What is it?
A friendly man is much easier to live with than an unfriendly man. Consider this aspect of your boyfriend’s personality carefully.