Friends. Everyone has 'em, and hopefully at least one good one! I have come to realize that strong, godly friendships are rare. Looking at Proverbs, chapter 27 today, we read many things about friendships. Take a moment to read verse 6. In this context the wounds coming from a friend are not without necessity. The best kind of friend is one who loves you enough not to mind their own business, but who is willing to hurt your feelings for a moment for the sake of helping you turn away from sin. This idea leads us down to verse 17. We've all heard it before, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Iron actually sharpens iron by shaving away any tiny bits that make the blade dull. We can sharpen each other by helping to get rid of the sin bits in our lives that make our lives spiritually dull.
Honest and wise counsel given between friends is invaluable. It is an amazing thing to be in a friendship that can endure and withstand correction from each other. It is incredible to feel safe and loved for who you are despite flaws and inconsistencies that can be found in your life. And a friendship where you are supported and held accountable is a treasure, and truly a picture of the relationship God desires with us. I have closely seen the effects of people trying to live their lives for God, but who have gone years without any solid friends in their lives to hold them accountable, encourage them in their faith, and call them out when necessary. The result is destruction. God desires for us to have friends who we can pursue holiness with.
In the past few years I have been blessed with friends who have become my family. I fully grasp verses 9 and 10 when they reveal the value of a friend's advice and closeness. Verse 9 says "the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice." Ask yourself this... are you concerned enough for your friends to endure the uncomfortable conversation that might be necessary when speaking truth into their lives? Are your intentions to build them up and help them pursue God more purely? Then looking to verse 10, are you making your life available to your friends as a family member would? Sometimes friendships are forced or just happen, but the ones that you invest yourself in and become famliy with are chosen.
God divinely places people along our path for us to love and live in community with. These relationships can be a beautiful picture of the gospel and they fulfill God's design for creation. When the body of believers comes together with unconditional love for each other, pushing each other further in holiness, and laying their lives down for another God is glorified. Challenge yourself to be a friend you'd want to have, call each other out in love, and be family to one another.