Gifts and Friendships

November 14, 2017

Proverbs 17:8 

A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that has it: whithersoever it turns, it prospers.

A gift is a beautiful thing. Have you ever received a gift? No matter how insignificant, a gift is more precious than anything you might purchase for yourself. It is one thing for you to purchase an apple at the farmer’s market for your own consumption; the purchase is insignificant. But should a poor widow in the church give you an apple as a gift, it would be hard to forget such a meager, yet significant act of love! A gift is far more meaningful than the material enrichment of the one who receives it. 

Gifts are persuasive. Gifts will solidify relationships. Gifts are symbols of love, and it is hard for the receiver to interpret them any other way. Of course, wicked people use gifts to pervert justice and gain illegitimate favor. They have ulterior motives in their gift-giving. But with our brothers and sisters, any way you look at the gift, it communicates friendship and love. 

Proverbs 17:9

He that covers a transgression seeks love; but he that repeats a matter separates very [close] friends.

Relationships are tenuous things, especially in our present day. Most people would rather not have close relationships with others because those relationships seem to bring about disappointment, offense, and broken friendships. Therefore, the people of the world do what they can to insulate themselves from the pain by separating themselves from others. They constantly move from city to city and from church to church to get lost in the crowd. Loneliness characterizes modern life. 

But true biblical community returns to human society when the content of this verse becomes the fabric of our lives. The only way to cultivate loving, fruitful relationships is to cover transgressions—to forget about other people’s sins—constantly. It is to live with an “abiding amnesia” in relation to the sins of others. This is the only way for relationships to prosper and to keep them from being choked by bitterness and anger. Of course, if a man is committing gross crimes, he should be turned over to the police and the civil courts, who must adjudicate the matter according to the justice of God’s laws. But when fathers and elders lovingly confront their children or other church members concerning sin, it is important that they quickly “burn the files” in their minds so they themselves are not taken by the sin of bitterness. 

The second way in which biblical community is fostered in our family and church life is by the careful bridling of the tongue. Any time you speak about someone else outside of their presence, it is akin to opening their underwear drawer. Now you are discussing their personal affairs, and you must be extremely careful with how you proceed. Perhaps it would be better just to shut the drawer and move on. If there is a sin that must be dealt with in your friend’s life, what profit is it to drag the sin around for everybody else to see it? How is this going to solve the problem? To gossip about somebody else’s faults only creates rifts and builds walls. And it does little or nothing to lead the sinning brother to repentance. Those who tolerate gossip usually begin to configure the brother as someone hardened in his sin. They form an inaccurate caricature of him, one that is usually far worse than what he is in reality. Do you see how unedifying and destructive gossip can be in our fellowships? 

Family Discussion Questions: 

1. What kind of power does a gift exert on those who receive it? 

2. Are we as a family generous in our gift giving? How can we be better at giving gifts? 

3. How effective are we at forgetting the sins of others? Do we “burn the files” in our minds, or do we keep records of wrongs?

4. Is it appropriate to talk about others behind their backs? How do people feel when you open their underwear drawers?