[March 29]--People Who Need People, Part One

Prov. 18:24; 14:20; 19:4

OK, first off, I heartily apologize for delving into Barbara Streisand songs, but I couldn’t come up with anything better. So sue me! How much are you paying for this devotional again?

As you might've guessed from the Scripture passages, we’re going to see what Solomon has to say about friends. I was a bit surprised in my research to find that he talks so much about the subject. He reminds us of their importance, tells us how to avoid the bad ones and find the good ones, and he tells us how to be a good one ourselves. I know I need some instruction on this, don’t you? So let’s get started.

The first verse seems to me to be a foundational one in choosing them. Did you notice that he makes a sharp distinction between “unreliable” friends and a real one? He definitely thinks that quality is more important than quantity. Notice also the contrast here between the end results. “Unreliable” people, when they see your life is falling apart, will clap you on the back and say “Good luck with that, bro.” But the type of friend we’re talking about here will be closer to you than family.

On a side note, I think that people are dying for this type of union. Have you ever been sitting on a plane next to a stranger, and 15 minutes later you know more about their personal life than you ever wanted to know? I wish they wouldn’t do that, but it’s a symptom of a much greater problem: These people are dying to have a “friend who sticks closer than a brother,” someone to whom they can bare their soul. If you have a few people like that in your life, then you should be extremely grateful. But you need to be careful, since not everyone is worthy of this level of intimacy. If you lay open your innermost psyche to someone you don’t know very well, they might turn out to be “unreliable” who can’t be trusted instead of a friend you can trust.

I would like to point out, by the way, that the Lord Jesus certainly followed this approach. He wasn’t--nor did he try to be--as intimate as possible with everyone he met. He had about 70 followers with 12 apostles out of those. Out of the 12 he had three in the “inner circle” who got to see things about him that no one else did. And out of those three, he had one on whom he concentrated like the proverbial laser beam.

How many times have I told you that Proverbs is a practical book? Among other things, that means that Solomon deals with life as it is, which is what you have to do before you can point people to life as it should be. Based on 18:24, I would--if I were translating 19:4--put the word “friends” in quotes in the text. These are not real friends, they’re companions. If they’re your friends based upon the state of your bank account, then obviously they’re not worth having. I wish that this didn’t happen, that a poor man’s friends tend to desert him when he’s in need, but again, we’re dealing with life as it is.

I’d like to end today with a more positive note. None of us are 100% dependable to all our friends at all times. We break our word, we fail them at critical times, we either speak up when we need to shut up or vice versa. We might even gossip about them to others. But there’s one Friend that we can always trust. He certainly is “closer than a brother,” because he bled out his life for us. When we’re in desperate times, when we’re on the brink of ruin, he’s there for us. He always has our best interests at heart, he’s always available for us to bare our soul to him, and he never ever ever breaks a promise. Now, if I could just be a good friend to him. . .

Lord Jesus, you truly are the best friend I could ever have. But you said I’m your friend if I do what you command.. I want that, I really do. Please. Help.

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