Friendship (Proverbs 20)
It’s a human need who’s value has been recognised for at least 3000 years from the time of Proverbs. Listen to these wise words from a few days ago:
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
(Proverbs 17:17 NIV11)
To face the trials of life with someone by your side is a blessing. In effect they are like family – someone who will stick with you in the worst of life.
So what are some other characteristics that make a good friend? There have been some solid guidelines in the last couple of chapters. Here are two:
1) A friend can forgive.
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offence.”
(Proverbs 19:11 NIV11)
Rather than blowing up and walking away the friend can find it in themselves to forgive a wrong done as they patiently wait for the other to come back to their senses. There’s a commitment to the past investment in the relationship and a hope for the future that are involved here. It’s a choice to value the other more highly than the offence.
2) A friend understands deeply.
“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.”
(Proverbs 20:5 NIV11)
To be known is a longing of the heart. To be known and loved is a true joy. Only the friend will care enough to uncover the real reason, will seek out the true motivation, will engage long enough to understand. In this sense friendship offers great encouragement but requires equally great commitment – why would I invest all that time in getting to know you? Surely because friendship offers the realistic expectation of a reciprocal experience of being known too.
As I reflected on these things this morning it occurred to me that practically and metaphorically Jesus is a good friend to the Samaritan lady we’ve come to know as ‘the woman at the well’ in John 4.
Jesus asks her to draw water from a deep well – and as she communicates He reveals that He knows her deeply – her past with all of its failed relationships, her ostracism from the community, and yet.. He loves her into the Kingdom by engaging with her and by overlooking her prickly responses. John records the outcome;
“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.””
(John 4:39–42 NIV11)
I hope that in the midst of the current adversities you know friendship and are working at being a good friend. Perhaps we need a little more intentionality at this time – to make a phone call, to drop a text, certainly to pray. I think it’s worth asking if our friendships not only go to the depths of knowing each other well but whether they have a heart to introduce the Saviour too. That way our friendships become family and have a hope of being enjoyed into eternity.
Grace and peace,
#newlifeisfoundhere #readingfornewlife #wisdom #Proverbs