The Book of Proverbs has lots of sayings about friendship. As we sift through them, we can imagine that there are different levels of friendship: choosing friendship, choosing good friends, being a good friend and being open to good friends.
Maybe if life were a video game, you’d “level up” like this…
Level 1 objective: finish the level with friends. Choose friendship.
A loner is out to get what he wants for himself. He opposes all sound reasoning.18:1
The sweet smell of incense can make you feel good, but true friendship is better still. 19:9
You see your face in a mirror and your thoughts in the minds of others. 27:19
Just like the verses we read about speech the other week, these proverbs are talking about friendship, not because it’s nice to have friends, but because it’s wise. There are people who have been hurt by others, or are not good sharers, or don’t really know how to make friends, who have decided that it’s not worth the effort and they would rather be alone. They can sing along with the Simon and Garfunkle song “I am a rock, I am an island.” There are some people who say they are just not built for friendship – they think being an introvert means being disconnected. But we are all built for relationship – the creation stories in Genesis insist on this, that it is not good for humans to be alone. Introverts don’t live alone, they live with a few deep connections rather than many lighter ones, but no one is built to be alone.
So this is a really difficult sore point for us right now – we are forced to be apart from each other, and for some the isolation stinks! According to Proverbs, we can smell good friendship, making you feel good like your favourite perfume. This verse reminds me of the familiar smell of a friend when you hug them – when I was younger I used to wear a perfume called “Fuzzy peach” and my best friend would hug me and say “Oh, it’s you! The peach is here!”
So it’s nice to have friends, but it’s also wise. The other two proverbs tell us that friends mean that we will hear our own thoughts better, and hear thoughts beyond our own self-absorbed world, too. As you talk with a friend, you get clarity on what you hear coming out of your mouth, and what they reflect back to you. A good friend will say “so, are you saying…?” and help you process your ideas. But someone who lives selfishly, without regard for anyone will become more stubborn, opposing other ideas and lose the ability to reason rationally, because everyone else is an enemy. Friendship isn’t just nice, it’s wise.
To find out the next level, download the full document here.