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.