Don’t brag about tomorrow,
since you don’t know what the day will bring.
Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—
a stranger, not your own lips.
A stone is heavy and sand is weighty,
but the resentment caused by a fool is even heavier.
Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood,
but jealousy is even more dangerous.
An open rebuke
is better than hidden love!
Wounds from a sincere friend
are better than many kisses from an enemy.
The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense.
Never abandon a friend—
either yours or your father’s.
When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance.
It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away.
As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:1-6, 9-10, and 17
Close friendships are the most important type of relationship we can have on this earth. God made friends for us to have to hold us up and to be there when the chips are down. They are also there for our fun and amusement to enjoy life. A great marriage begins with an awesome close friendship. Proverbs 27 has several verses that deal with the subject of friendship. One test of a friendship is where a person shares a hurt with you and a test of how strong the friendship is, is how you respond to that hurt. Do you respond with look on the bright side, or do you feel their pain. Do you strengthen them when they are weak with words of a faithful God, or do you give a shallow I’m sorry and move on. Ignoring our friend’s pain is not what we are supposed to do. Empathy goes a long way more than shallow sympathy. Shallow sympathy disconnects us from our friends; empathy connects us to them. A sure sign of the love and closeness you have for your friend is you feel sad when they are sad, you feel joy when they have joy. It takes time to build this connection, but that is what this blog is about, building friendships that can last forever. Proverbs 27 gives us some great guidelines of how to do this.
A bit of wisdom from Solomon is at the start of this Proverb, he says that we should never brag on ourselves, but let a friend do that. When he is saying stranger, he is talking about a potential friend or a friend, not your own mouth. I have had great success with weight loss, but I always let other people tell my story for me, the only purpose I would tell my story is to encourage others along the way. It’s funny I post every run I do on Facebook and Twitter, I’m sure people think that is bragging, my runs are nothing to brag about, it’s to show it can be done. You can be active and healthy. That’s about as close to bragging I do on myself, I let others tell of what I have accomplished and inspire others. I have personal trainer friends that always use me as an example, which is how to be an inspiration without using your own mouth. Humility goes a long way in a friendship.
The next part Solomon talks about four things that can destroy a great friendship or prevent one from even beginning. They are resentment, anger, wrath, and jealously. Resentment is having a spirit of offence. If you allow people to offend you, you really don’t show yourself friendly. It’s hard to gain friends if you resent everything they may have intentionally done against you or not intentionally did. You will not keep friends if you don’t overlook their own humanity. The next thing that keeps us from great friendships is anger. This goes along with resentment; anger is the next phase. I’m not saying anger is not going to happen, but sometimes when we are offended we escalate it to the next level and then it becomes destructive. We don’t stop, but keep it going when we need to stop and repair damage. Wrath is anger out of control. That is the worst and the most destructive anger there is. A single word of wrath can destroy any hope for a continued relationship. The last and the one thing that can ruin a great friendship is jealousy. It’s not a close friendship if you cannot get a handle of other people being in your friend’s life. Because you love and care for your friend deeply you should always encourage those connections because anyone who your friend loves should be loved by you and not despised. Don’t get it in your head that it might be a toxic friendship, because the enemy is just waiting to get the wheels of misunderstanding going to break up something powerful God has put together.
Being humble in our friendships and allowing friends to brag on us can go a long way in relationships and your own character to attract more friends. Resentment, anger, wrath, and jealousy have no place in our friendships and should be avoided like the plague. In the next part we will discuss three more builders to friendship. Always enjoy your close friends, keep in touch and don’t lose them ever.
© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple], 2011-2015.