I finished the book of Proverbs today in my 90 days through the Bible. (Note: I was four days ahead of schedule, but I lost ground during the computer change stuff, so now I am right on the same schedule as my church.) Man, I about wore my GlideStik (a fluorescent yellow Hi-Liter that is dry, not wet, so doesn’t bleed through) to a stub while reading this book. So much wisdom, so many pearls to choose from in Proverbs. But there were two about "friends" that I wanted to write about in my blog today.
Prov 18:24 There are "friends" who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Prov 24:24-25 Keep away from angry, short-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul. (NLT)
Have you heard the term "toxic friends" or "toxic people"? I’m sure you have. The term has been around for many, many years, and "toxic people" have been around since the beginning of time. I believe that’s who/what Solomon was writing about in the verses quoted above.
Many years ago, some "toxic friends" treated me — and others — in a destructive way (which included anger and short-tempers and some truly bizarre, vindictive behavior), and I remember asking myself while it was happening, Who are these people and why did I even want to be their friend? I came to realize that I had little in common with them, other than one shared interest. Certainly our core values were different. And once these "toxic" people were gone from my life, I was amazed by how much happier I was, how much lighter my heart. I’d been a round peg trying to fit into a square hole. Although painful, it was a learning experience for me.
From that moment on, I’ve been more discerning about those whom I call "friends." For me, the starting point for any deep friendship is a shared faith in Jesus Christ, a deep relationship with the Lord. And God has brought some real, intimate friendships into my life in the years that followed the aforementioned learning experience. I have friends who stick closer to me than a brother or sister, friends who I can bare my soul to and never fear betrayal. I’m so thankful for them. (I’ve even asked the Lord if we could please have neighboring mansions when we get to heaven.)
Of course, I’m not saying that a Christian cuts off relationship with anyone who doesn’t share the same faith or even the same depth of faith. But I look to Jesus for an example in relationships. He had His inner circle of three and then He had the slightly larger circle of twelve and then He had an even larger circle of followers/disciples. He reached out in love to taxpayers and fallen women and lepers and Roman centurions, etc., but He shared many things only with His most intimate earthly friends.
Thank You, Lord, for the friends You have brought into my life. Thank You for the smallest circle of intimate friends who share the deepest part of my life, who love me when I’m at my very worst. Thank You for that slightly larger circle of friends who have been with me in laughter and tears. Thank You for the much wider circle of friends who are examples to me by how they walk out their life of faith. Thank You for the many friendly acquaintances You’ve allowed me to meet, through my writing, through this blog, through the organizations I’m part of. Thank You for the strangers who never contact me but when I meet them in heaven, they’ll say, "I prayed for you, Robin." My life is richly blessed because of them all. Amen.
In the grip of His grace,