25 Rules for Strong Friendships

We could all use a little help in the relationship department from time to time. Here are twenty-five “rules” for friendship, straight out of the book of Proverbs.

Rule #1: Don’t get mad over nothing.

Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm (Prov. 3:30).

Rule #2: Don’t try to change a friend who is unwise.

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you (Prov. 9:8).

Rule #3: Hatred leads to more fighting. Choose love.

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses (Prov. 10:12).

Rule #4: Don’t be two-faced.

The one who conceals hatred has lying lips (Prov. 10:18).

Rule #5: Don’t talk trash.

Whoever utters slander is a fool (Prov. 10:18).

Rule #6: Pick humble friends.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom (Prov. 11:2).

Rule #7: Keep criticism to yourself.

Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent (Prov. 11:12).

Rule #8: Keep secrets.

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered (Prov. 11:13).

Rule #9: Don’t be a mean girl.

A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself (Prov. 11:17).

Rule #10: Be an encourager.

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad (Prov. 12:25).

Rule #11: Just because you think it doesn’t mean you have to say it.

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin (Prov. 13:3).

Rule #12: Choose wise friends.

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

Rule #13: Don’t get mad easily.

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly (Prov. 14:29).

Rule #14: Don’t be jealous.

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot (Prov. 14:30).

Rule #15: Don’t be cranky.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Prov. 15:1).

Rule #16: Stay away from that girl with the temper.

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention (Prov. 15:18).

Rule #17: Get advice from wise friends.

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed (Prov. 15:22).

Rule #18: Speak sweetly.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body (Prov. 16:24).

Rule #19: Don’t talk behind your friends’ backs.

A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends (Prov. 16:28).

Rule #20: Don’t get mad easily.

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city (Prov. 16:32).

Rule #21: Don’t jump ship.

A friend loves at all times (Prov. 17:17).

Rule #22: Pick a few close friends over lots of acquaintances.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24).

Rule #23: Don’t be easily offended.

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense (Prov. 19:11).

Rule #24: Avoid the drama.

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling (Prov. 20:3).

Rule #25: Don’t celebrate when your frenemy has trouble.

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him (Prov. 24:17–18).

What friendship rules has the Lord shown you in His Word?

Which “rules” are the most challenging for you to live out?

About Author

Erin Davis

Erin is passionate about pointing young women toward God's Truth. She is the author of several books and a frequent speaker and blogger to women of all ages. Erin lives on a small farm in the midwest with her husband and kids. When she's not writing, you can find her herding goats, chickens, and children.

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  • Luna

    This article is amazing. I printed this out before school started and it’s been in my planner as a daily reminder. It has been almost 6 months since I started reading these scriptures daily and it has really made a difference in my relationships.

    • Sarah @ Revive Our Hearts

      That’s beautiful, Luna! Thank you for letting Erin and us at LYWB know! You are wise to keep His Words before you! “Your unchanging word is my delight, and the guide of my footsteps.” (Ps. 119:24) Blessings to you this semester, Luna!

  • Callie Lou Mulnix

    I recently started college and met a really nice girl. Over the course of a couple weeks, we became like best friends! After a chapel service, I was challenged to consider my friendship with her and I realized that she is not the kind of person I want to be around (even though she is apparently a Christian). I’ve realized that she is very prideful, outspoken, unkind to others, and has the wrong priorities. AND it’s starting to affect me! So now, what do I do? Should I tell her my concerns and try to break off the friendship? I’m afraid that she will react in the wrong way if I do. I want to please the Lord in my relationships. Please help! Thank you 🙂

    • That’s tough, Callie Lou! You say she is a believer, you don’t want to hurt her, but you know that she has the potential to influence you in the wrong way. First I would encourage you to pray, pray, pray about this situation. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to any sin that you are bringing into this friendship that you may need to repent of (Mt. 7:1-5). Once you have asked and received God’s forgiveness, then ask Him how to handle this situation.

      Perhaps you could share this blog with her. Print it out and ask for her thoughts on what she’s read. She may need a friend who is willing to ask her the hard questions. That being said, it won’t hurt to pull back a bit and give each other space to allow other girls into your circle of friendship. Check out the blog below. I’m praying for you, Callie Lou!

      Four Friends Every Girl Needs http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/four-friends-every-girl-needs/

  • Rachel Lee

    This came at the right time. I’m having a friendship crisis with 2 of my friends. I don’t want to be their friend and hang out with them anymore but I don’t know how to tell them or if I should even tell them. 1 of them keeps giving me unasked advice and I get so bored hanging out with her and the other is kind of rude, she makes sarcastic and mean remarks about me and others and I just feel like she uses me. I really don’t know what to do 🙁 I’m scared God is going to tell me to continue to be friends with them but I really want to obey His will for the friendships He puts in my life

    • bon

      I have been where you are, more times than I like to admit. Friends telling me they were constantly busy, but were free enough to tell me they were hanging out with other people, and on several occasions blew me off for other events. I asked God, “Should I continue to be friends with them?” and like you, I was afraid He would say “Yes.”

      Until I realized, God doesn’t want us to suffer, and that I only prayed those prayers because I was afraid of sticking up for myself, of being alone, and being away from their toxic comfort. One of the “friends” I told upfront I didn’t want to engage any longer because I’d realized they didn’t want to be friends. Didn’t get nor expect a response. The other, I just ceased communicating with because I’d done all I could in that friendship and I was worn out.

      Some time later, God directed people to me I believe are true friends. Time alone will tell. It’s not lost on me that this happened after I kicked the others to the curb. I’m just grateful that God was patient with me in my insecurity, and that His timing is always right.

      Be Blessed!

      • Rachel Lee

        Thanks for answering Bon! I’m sorry you went through that but it’s an awesome testimony that show how God worked in your life! I just have one question.. what if my friend wants to continue to be friends with me? like she’s oblivious to the fact that sometimes she can be rude, put me down, and make me feel used.

        • bon

          I’d like to remind you of yourself. You said you didn’t want to be friends with them anymore, and you are completely entitled to those feelings. You don’t owe anyone any of your time, energy, or attention because you feel they’re unaware of what they’re doing to you.

          More often than not, people *know* exactly what they’re doing. She’s not oblivious to what she does, but she finds it okay to do because 1. she hasn’t been rebuked 2. that’s just who she is.

          What do you want out of this situation?

  • Erika

    I feel like some of these contradict each other? Like 3 and 4: don’t hate, but don’t hide it either? It’s kind of confusing to me…
    Also Rule 2 and 7: shouldn’t we help our friends through doing this?
    Thanks for this post anyway, I am struggling with friendships and needed this <3
    God bless!

    • Jenna Liz

      Erica, same here! (Glad I’m not the only one 🙂

      I have (or had) a friend that is soo confusing, like, one minute we were best friends, but now she won’t even look me in the eye! What do I do? Should I ask her why she’s shunning me, and turning another friend against me? Or should I just leave well alone? I’m kinda hurt, and trying not to be bitter…

      Thanks for the post!

      • Friendships can be hard! Be sure to pray for your friend and ask God to show you how to reach out to her and do what you can to reconcile (Matt. 5:23-24). You can go to her and humbly say, “It seems that I may have done something that has affected our friendship. I value our friendship so much. Would you forgive me?” That puts whatever you may have done in her court for forgiveness. If she chooses to forgive, that is great. If she chooses not to forgive, you will at least know that You’ve done what God has asked you to do.

        And then it is so important for you to forgive her, as well, Jenna Liz. Forgiveness will keep you from harboring bitterness in your heart toward her or toward God. It’s not easy, I know, Jenna Liz. I’m praying for you!

        • Jenna Liz

          I’ll try and put your advice into action; thank you so much for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate it!!

    • Great questions, Erika! The challenge re: hatred (#3 and 4) is to choose to respond to others out of love rather than hatred. We aren’t covering it up but bringing our emotions and responses in line with God’s commandment to love others as He has loved us (Jn. 15:12).

      We also must realize (#2 and 7) that we are powerless to change another person. Only God can do that. So praying for them and keeping our lips silent to others about them, is a very honorable way to handle this situation. When we speak, we should come from a heart of humility, speaking words of hope and help rather than speaking words that belittle and tear down (Eph. 4:29).

      I hope this is helpful, Erika. Even though these may seem confusing and contradictory, they are God’s Word and are truth. I’m praying that God will help you to come to Him so He can help you to understand and apply these words of truth to your life and in your friendships.

      • Erika

        Thank you!

  • Amy

    Hi there,
    Thank you so much for blessing young women with a practical list for making friends. Can you please clarify the rule for “stay away from girls who are easily tempered”. We are ambassadors of the Gospel, and to shun people who are in sin, might be misleading and not good advice. Can we please clarify what this might look like, in a generation who does not communicate well because of technology, and because of sin would love nothing more to be self-centered and not compassionate on their “lost” neighbor.
    Thank you for your help.

    • This article was about strong friendships and how to build/maintain those. Our close friends will either build us up or tear us down. When we align with those who are easily tempered, chances are that become our nature as well.

      We aren’t encouraging you to shun those who are easily tempered, but rather to be cautious of having a strong, close friendship with someone in that area. Reach out to your lost neighbor, Amy, but keep your close, intimate friendships with those who may not be perfect but are striving to live according to God’s Word and encouraging you to do the same.

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

  • Sarah West

    What do you mean don’t try to change an unwise friend? I should still tell them test what there doing is breaking God’s law, right?

    • We cannot change people. As the Scripture Erin shares, says, when we try to reprove an unwise friend, or someone who does not know the Lord, we often simply get anger back at us.

      So while it is fine to share the truth of God’s law with them, it is important to remember that it may not be received well. If it is not received well, we still need to respond to them in love.

      Praying for them is critical, Sarah, as God is the only one who can change a person from the inside out. Ask God to work in their hearts to help them to believe God’s Word and want to change to live in obedience to His Word. Ask Him to do whatever He needs to draw them into a personal relationship with Him.

  • Sarah West

    May I ask what translation you use for this?

    • Sarah @ Revive Our Hearts

      English Standard Version
      “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”