A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
Three elements of friendship – and my Christ-given responsibility within them – have been heavy on my mind during these past few weeks.
Consider, for example, how even in the midst of conducting the business of everyday life “for the common good,” our purposeful display of
Compassion (as simple as a “hi-how-are-you?”)
Caring (as simple as desiring an answer other than the generic “fine”)and
Consideration (as simple as a call, email or text as follow-up to said answer)
toward individuals in our lives underscore the God-given intrinsic worth of believers and non-believers who are hurt, lonely, disadvantaged, hungry, excluded or emotionally isolated from others.
Sir Francis Bacon sums up well the individual and societal healing that happens when one determines to make these three elements priorities for friendship:
· “We know the diseases of stoppings and suffocations are the most dangerous in the body; and it is not much otherwise in the mind: you may take sarza to open the liver, steel to open the spleen, flower of sulfur for the lungs, castoreum for the brain; but no receipt openeth the heart but a true friend, to whom you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels and whatsoever lieth upon the heart to oppress it.”
I’ve come to realize more than ever that a resolve to adhere to these elements affords a person the opportunity to reflect the character of Jesus by being “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” whether or not one feels like sticking – or indeed feels one has time to stick. Without a doubt, doing so not only fosters obedience to our King but can also keep someone from coming unglued.