Read Proverbs 27
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be friends with a celebrity? Imagine if you were trying to have lunch or grab a coffee with them and suddenly you were surrounded by paparazzi or approached by random strangers wanting to take selfies with your friend while you’re left holding their stuff. I, personally, would be incredibly annoyed with that situation. But imagine what it would be like to be the celebrity in this scenario. What would it be like to never trust someone’s motives for wanting to be around you? What would it be like to question everyone’s interactions? That could lead to a pretty cynical and lonely experience.
Can you imagine what Solomon must have experienced being King? He was the son of the King so he grew up in the palace, being waited on by servants, and I’m sure some people tried to go through him to get to his dad, the King. Throughout his life, Solomon probably learned how to spot the difference between a truly good friend and a power hungry imposter. Maybe this is why he focused so much on friendships in this particular Proverb.
Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight,
a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
In your opinion, what makes a good friend?
Their ability to listen?
What they can give you?
Their sense of humor?
Their desire for adventure?
Your shared interests?
Your shared history?
This isn’t something that we talk about often as adults. Many of our friendships are born out of convenience: co-worker friends, neighborhood friends, around the same age friends, etc., but how many of these friendships have the makings of being a truly good relationship? Solomon obviously knew, as many of us likely do, what it’s like to be burned by someone who was thought of as a friend, and wanted those who read his words to be able to spot the difference.
You use steel to sharpen steel,
and one friend sharpens another.
I never truly understood the concept of one friend sharpening another until some of my friendships began to change. Once I had friends who were willing to call me out on my issues in love, then I realized just what that verse meant. It’s not easy when someone sees something wrong in you and, because they care about you, call it out. In that moment you have to decide who you are and who they are. If they’re truly a friend, it’s not an attack, it’s pointing out a flaw that can lead to your betterment. However, if they’re not a true friend, if they’re not doing it in love, it can be easily taken as an attack, something that needs to be defended and fought against.
An unwelcome sharpening can be perceived as an attack and fiercely defended.
When we see characteristics or traits in others that are less than their best, let’s lead with grace and love. When they know that we care about them, when we’ve built that rapport with them, they’ll be more likely to receive what we have to say. After all, I’m sure that’s what we’d want in return.
Let’s be people who pursue healthy, life-giving friendships and model the qualities of a true friend for those around us.