September 30 I Friday
“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” —Proverbs 12:26
Wisdom is primarily about being successful in relationships, because the quality of our lives derives from the quality of our relationships. We were designed to find meaning and satisfaction in relationships, including friendship, but friendships can sometimes go terribly wrong. The joys of companionship, honesty and fun with friends are equaled by the pain and rejection that come from a broken friendship. Some people are so afraid of the potential hurts that they prevent themselves from experiencing the joys.
The criteria for friendship should not be what we can get, but what we can give. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the son who took his inheritance early had all kinds of friends when his pockets were bulging with cash, but when the cash was gone, he found himself alone in a pig pen, longing for the pods he fed them. What he thought was friendship was exploitation. Money will buy superficial friends, but true friends are always there for us without expectation of return.
Strong friendships are developed slowly but protected rigorously. Proverbs 25:17 says, “Seldom set foot in your neighbour’s house—too much of you, and they will hate you.” We are to be drawn in, not barge in to the hearts and homes of our friends, for this builds the respect, trust and love foundational to friendship. We protect and encourage our friends by sticking by them through thick and thin and most importantly, being the one who listens. Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.”
- S. Lewis writes, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.” We are all vulnerable in our own ways, and must be prudent in choosing our friends. Strong and lasting friendships take time to develop and are deepened by sharing both tears and laughter. In the Apocrypha (not included as part of Scripture), there is a profound statement from the book of Ecclesiasticus, which says, “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: he that has found one has found a treasure. There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend, and no scales can measure his excellence. A faithful friend is an elixir of life; and those who fear the Lord will find him.” God calls all of us into friendship with Him, and that is the engine that drives every other friendship because out of the rich resources of loving God with all our hearts and souls comes the love we share with friends. To love is to be vulnerable, but the greatest risk in friendships is to take no risk at all.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, it can be so difficult to be vulnerable, even with those closest to me. Though I know it comes with risk, thank You for the intimate friendships in my life. Praise You!