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Two Ways to Prevent from Being a Contaminated Friend

Tribute to Diane Reid
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

When I think about friendship, my thoughts immediately go to the song You’ve Got a friend in Me by Randy Newman and Lyle Lovett. The lyrics exemplify the definition of a true friend who “sticks closer than a brother” for me. You know, the person who knows your quirks and flaws yet, loves you anyway. Those who protect your head and heart by caring about your feelings and guarding their words because of their admiration for you.

Proverbs extends words of wisdom regarding friendship in numerous ways. I love how it delivers prevention methods to keep us from being a toxic friend. As I have been reading and studying the chapters, I have had to accept many corrective words. Ouch! – my toes have definitely endured some agony. However, God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s promptings opened my eyes to several means which warrant being a noble and wholesome friend. Let me share a couple with you.

Your Lips: Yes, as lovely as they can be, they can release lethal poison. Proverbs 10:19-20 reminds us to be cautious with our words and double check to see if they are beneficial and worthy. Proverbs 12:17-23 heeds direction to utter kindness yet, be cautious in the overall flapping of the lips.

We find in the first few verses of Chapter 13 a promise of blessings for those using wise speech and pleasant words. But what about those times when provoking situations occur? Truth – they happen even in the best of friendships. Proverbs 14:29 reveals the solution is to restrain the lips and exhibit self-control over our responses. Proverbs 15:1 portrays this as having a soft reply and avoid harshness at all costs.

Then there is gossip. Yuck – the destruction it brings. Passing on all those juicy morsels and having no regard for someone’s reputation. It stems from a need to elevate self. Somehow it tends to capsulate half-truth, hearsay, etc. We can even become entangled in the web without initiating it.

Be on guard with your lips. Let your words speak life. Prepare to listen more and truly hear what others express. Make good use of your lip actions, avoid gossip, and be a friend indeed.

Your Heart: Have you ever found your heart to be in the wrong place? Self-centered living is an easy path to stumble upon. Proverbs 14:12 reveals that our “self-righteous” living may even be deceiving in its blessings because it is not sustainable. The truth is – it is a heart matter.

Luke 6:45 reminds us to guard our heart for the primary purpose of staying pure for God. We have to be mindful of what penetrates our heart and be very intentional to keep our focus on living for God and bringing Him glory, not ourselves. Proverbs 14:30 encourages us to have a “sound heart” because it generates “life to the body”. When embracing this lifestyle, we will be a friend who does not entertain a deceptive, harden heart and can offer love and goodness with the right motives.

Although there are numerous ways to produce great friend qualities, these two areas are primary issues that can make or break a relationship. Our motives and mouths can create excellence for His glory, but it requires discipline and righteousness of the Lord.

So, what does it really boil down to? A choice to love at all times regardless (Proverbs 17:17a) and to accept correction for our overall behavior for a lifetime. Not an easy decision but rewarding results – being “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” and receiving the same. A worthy blessing bringing pleasure to God.

Diane was a sweet friend to many!

The Mouth-Need I say More!

Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. James 3:10

Happy Friday friends! Can you believe it? Next week we will be entering June. 2020 is passing by quickly yet, it is making a lasting impression on the world. We have experienced many things we never could have imagined a year ago. However, I think it has reinforced the thought of being ready and prepared for anything. And with that thought, let’s talk about this concept when it comes to the mouth.

 In Matthew 15:11 the bible reminds us to be careful what comes out of our mouth because our words can tarnish, corrupt, and ruin. Most of us are quite aware of the power of words. As we mature in Christ, we strive to listen more and talk less. We intentionally choose to be engaged in conversations by being fully present and just listening instead of being so concerned with what we may say in response. (For me, that takes some Holy Spirit reliance)

But let’s visit the subject of casual chit chat slyness of the devil. He knows how to tap into your anger, sore spots, self-esteem, and emotions. Trust me when I say he is looming in the shadows of social media, zoom meetings, emails, etc. He loves to stir the pot and have people point out things that seem to be a direct hit at you. Innocent yet uncomfortable for the most part.  

No matter the comment, smirk, sarcasm, or crafty comeback, it hurts! Makes you feel weird and downright uncomfortable. Well, why don’t we see these things coming? —because it is our family, friends, close community, church, etc. and it is never expected around those who love us or so we would hope. Yes, the enemy knows that too! So, guess where he likes to attack? Among the ones that we hold near and dear to our hearts in order to destroy relationships and tear down your trust. He definitely doesn’t want us building relationships especially in the church because that might just mess up his plans.

Therefore, we have to be ready for these situations. Ephesians 4:29 states, “Let no corrupt communication process out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”  Plan for the sly comments, “innocent” darts, and the hurt. How? By adopting the mind of Christ and willing to allow the Holy Spirit to lead. Be very quick to extend grace and to have words of love and gratitude ready on your lips. Choose ahead of time to respond with an extension of God’s authority and not your own. (This challenges me beyond my own abilities and trust me the post may be for my benefit only!) We even have to learn how to refrain from being a sandpaper person too. Our words are so important.  

I have had to learn how to go to my inside voice and immediately say, “I bring my mind and mouth under your authority Oh Lord. Help me smile and extend your love.” No, I haven’t lost my mind. It works! There have been times when people unexpectedly lash out and I have had to choose God’s way quickly. It is difficult to stay calm and find God’s strength to exercise self-control. It is one of the hardest temptations to overcome because my insides want to lambaste in more ways than one. But God’s love works in mysterious ways. (Do not misunderstand what I am saying. I am not asking you to take abuse. If you are being abused get help.)

So, choose your words today. Plan for the incidents. Ask the Holy Spirit for discernment every time your mouth opens its door. Think about the words you give and the responses you will utter. (Maybe a quarantine mask isn’t all so bad! Perhaps God wants us to pay more attention to what “goes in the body and out of the body” than germs!)

I know it is an old cliché — but seriously, What Would Jesus Do?  

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