31 DAYS of WISDOM: A Month of Proverbs/DAY 27
(Proverbs Chapter 27)
“WANTED: RELIABLE FRIEND/TALKING OPTIONAL/LOYALTY A MUST/AVAILABLE 24/7 NOT NECESSARY/NEEDED ON OCCASSIONALLY ON WEEKENDS/LOW MAINTENENCE PREFERRED/LOOKING FOR LONGTIME COMITTEMENT”
The phone rings and my first thought is: “Do I time for the possible drama that might await me on the other end of that line?” I won’t tell you whether I take the call or not. The mere fact that I even hesitate to pick up is telling as to the kind of crappy person that I am.
I think face book and text messaging have killed the art of authentic friendship. Hey, I love face book, man! But only because it gives the illusion of me having lots of friends and people who think I’m cool. Regardless of what face book makes me think, I KNOW that I don’t have over 400 friends! I am NOT that delusional! As for text messaging, well… that was invented by a dude, I promise you. Some guy thought “Hey… what if I could come up with a way to communicate by phone without ever having to actually TALK on the phone?” GENIUS! You can’t exactly have a deep conversation via texting. (Though apparently you can have sex through text… don’t ask me how, haven’t figured that one out – nor do I want to.) Friendships seem to be a fading art. Or maybe it’s just that the modern – day friendship looks much different then it use to look. Call me old – school but I prefer friendships forged in loyalty and fused by the fires of truth and honesty. And you can’t find those in a text message, a tweet or a post.
What makes a good friend is seldom found, however, in words or even deeds. Your friendships are defined in those moments of testing and tribulation. I can always define the deepest friendships I have in circumstances where trouble abounds, whether they be troubles of mine or others.
Can you determine who your friends are? The next time you find yourself in the midst of tragedy or difficult circumstances, look around. Who calls? Who writes? Who takes the time to listen to your cries? Who brings you comfort without ever speaking a word? It’s amazing how quickly the guest list shrinks when you’re going through some crisis… even smaller does it get when perhaps you’ve done something wrong and it makes no difference that you’ve asked forgiveness or made amends. By nature, we cast the sinners upon the rocks tossing them over the cliffs. We wash our hands and walk away as fast as our feet can carry us. I’ve done it. I’d venture to say, well… we probably all have.
But its human nature, isn’t it? After all… friends don’t act that way. And we have this great difficulty with that little thing called “forgiveness”. The whole
“…forgive us our sin as we forgive those…”
seems lost on us. We kinda overlook that part. Man, I tell you, I have a hard time letting go of things. I got so much baggage that I can’t seem to drop sometimes I feel like I could open a luggage store for world travelers! Then there are those friends that do something just plain stupid. (I call it the human condition) There’s some great sin that is discovered, some moral stumble, some huge fall from grace – which, by the way, is a fall from HUMAN grace not God’s Grace… there’s a BIG difference – and what’s our reaction? Most people walk away. It’s easier that way, as if remaining somebody’s friend somehow means we condone a person’s behavior. Maybe it makes us uncomfortable. Maybe we just don’t know how to deal with it. And maybe it forces us to look at the sin in our own life and that’s just not something we’re prepared to do. But take a look at Proverbs 27:
“Wounds from a friend are better then kisses from an enemy” (v.6)
“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume.” (v.9)
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (v.17)
Our misguided definitions of friendship impale our ability to tell a friend the truth. If you can’t speak the truth to a friend… and if you can’t hear the truth from a friend… well, that’s not really much of a friendship, is it. That’s really what I judge my friendships on: if I think I can tell them something I don’t really want to tell them. Here’s a far more difficult question to ponder: what kind of friend are you? Recently, I sat on my couch late one evening and pondered this very question. What kind of friend am I? Do I take the time to listen to a friend’s problems? Do I reach out? Am I simply available with understanding, love, or compassion? Am I willing to risk a friendship to speak the truth? It says in (v.10)
“Never abandon a friend – Then in your time of need, you won’t have to ask relatives for assistance. For it is better to go to a friend then a relative far away.”
Friends don’t abandon friends. Period. You may not like what a friend does. Or maybe you’ve been hurt by a friend. I don’t think we are expected to continue to allow friends to hurt and abuse us. But we should never abandon a friend. I tell my son all the time “You can know who your friends are by how they treat you. Friends treat each other with respect and kindness.” If you have a friend that abuses you verbally, tears you down in front of others, and consistently behaves in a manner not consistent with the true values of friendship… that’s no friend. Friendship is cultivated over time and shared circumstances. And from time to time, friends let each other down. But patterns develop and as you look back on your friendships, when you see a consistency of love and support and exhortation, chances are you’re looking at a solid friendship. The best friendships are usually those found in a balanced pattern of give and take, very much like a great marriage.
Truthfully… I think I wear people out. Why? Well… I’m high maintenance and I’m a taker. I also talk a lot more then I listen. Hey… it is what it is…
but I’ve been working pretty hard on that these last few years! But here was another revelation that came to me sitting on my couch: friendships sometimes are seasonal. And sometimes, a friendship that perhaps once was balanced has somehow, over time, gotten to be out of balance. Is that an end to friendship? Not really, but maybe the friendship needs to be redefined simply because it can no longer operate the way that it once did. So take a step back and realize that… it’s okay for things to change. Allow God to help you navigate through that change and trust Him to bring you the support He knows you might need. We all need friends. God knew this about us – He created us for these relationships. The other thing God reminded me was this: ultimately, He IS the greatest friend I will ever know. And HE will never abandon me through anything. Jesus is a friend who sticks closer then a brother. Sounds like a pretty good friendship… after all, Christ died for that friendship.
As for me, well… I do okay. I just need to BE a better friend, that’s all. And for all my mistakes, I am pretty loyal and reliable! (Even though I talk too much!) Oh, hold on… excuse me while I answer this… I really need to take this call. My friend is on the other line!
SAG – September 2010