I will be teaching in this Post. Want to know how to study/read your Bible? Keep reading…
Friendship has been on my heart for a little while so when this morning, God spoke directly about it, I thought it nice to share my conversation with God as today’s blog post.
Proverbs 27: Proverb for Friendship, for me.
I have read it over and over, in various versions too but there is something about what Season one is in and how the Word constantly becomes new. One revelation is never enough. God speaks: all. the. time. I often tell mentees to read their daily chapters in the following 3 versions as they are not only my absolute favourites, but they have a way of bringing a perfect harmony of understanding: NKJV/NIV, MSG and AMP.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Verse: 6, NKJV
The above is our key verse. However, we cannot dissect the above without paying close attention to how Proverbs 27 begins. Themes such as pride, anger and jealousy are explored and wisdom is offered there. There was a time I used to read the Bible on face value – especially the book of Proverbs. Some verses resonated, some were a bit odd: other times, certain verses made perfect sense but I failed to understand why some verses dealt with different topics and others seemed to jump to another.
They never do.
All verses precede each other and beautifully link into the next. In addition, when one takes a step back at the end of a chapter, (away from the microglass of reading in bits, stage by stage as with a verse) and overviews the chapter completely, we find the core message(s).
A prideful/boastful man cannot take correction: verse: 1
A man hell-bent on hearing praise without end cannot take correction: verse: 2
A man consumed by anger, cruelty and jealousy – a man who is used to carrying dead weights which seem essential to his/her life or people/things/ideologies which have formed their foundation (stone/sand) cannot take correction: verse 3/4.
‘Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed’ – verse 5. The adjective ‘concealed’ means to hide, tuck away, disguise, mask: hello MAC! So ‘love’ can be concealed?! In other words, there can be people who genuinely love you but will prefer to hide your faults, ignore your shortcomings, deal with your mistakes quietly, are afraid to call out your ‘ugly’ and keep such business between you and them: you know, they have your back for life. Your secret is safe with them…
If there is this type of love then that means there is another type? Sure thing. A love which openly rebukes – a love which is not fuelled by fear, a love which is free and holds its integrity and noble position. A love that knows itself as love regardless of how it is perceived. A love so whole, so true.
You can decide what type of ‘love’ you want your friendships/relationships to be based on. In my opinion, there is only one ‘love’ I want and choose to stand by: Love enveloped in Truth – as that of Jesus Christ who is Love and Truth personified.
Now to verse 6: the key verse.
Always look out for the key words in a verse and look up the definitions. I looked up: ‘faithful’, ‘wounds’, ‘friend’, ‘kisses’, ‘enemy’, ‘deceitful’ which made my conversation with the Lord fuller. Speak out loud as you will a physical person and ask questions out loud. The Lord will respond and expand on the definitions in front of you. Write as much down in a notebook so that you do not forget!
Faithful: is the concept of unfailingly remaining loyal to someone or something, and putting that loyalty into consistent practice regardless of extenuating circumstances.
Wound: a noun, often caused by a cut, blow or slash of great impact.
Friend: a noun, a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, a companion typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.
Kisses: a verb, a sign of love or affection, sexual desire or a greeting.
Enemy: a noun, a person who is actively opposed to something or someone.
Deceitful: an adjective: dishonest, misleading, untruthful, false, insincere, unprincipled.
Howbeit that a friend who wounds me is considered faithful? Wounds hurt. Wounds are far from pleasant; wounds are a physical representation of pain. I have severely cut my skin by mistakenly allowing myself to be cut by a knife when cooking, it was painful and needed immediate attention – there was a cause to the pain. Soon after, the pain developed into a wound, the injured area of my skin was still sore – I couldn’t place a plaster over it straight away; it was as though no other part of my body existed. All I could feel was the pain. Over time, the wound goes down and a plaster or first aid ointment can be applied to prevent bacterial infection. So aware of the incident, I adjust to accommodate the pain and take caution not to inflict the wound with further pain.
How does this relate? Pain according to our key text is TRUTH. Wounds develop as a result of TRUTH. Depending on how wounds are treated, they progress to heal and become SCARS.
At the wound stage, one can choose to apply medical prescribed solutions or allow time/nature heal it by living life as normal. In other words, if a friend causes significant pain by the truth they tell and it causes you to consider them jealous, prideful, cruel or you become angry that you distance yourself: chances are, you are all those things! How we respond to the truth is a direct reflection as to what is current in our hearts and how open we are to the spirit of correction. My Head Mentor considers these things as silent chapters – that which only ourselves know, the thoughts and comments which we quietly negotiate in our hearts about the words our friends have said in love, that go against our desire, will and passion.
Friendship should never be based on fear or time. I used to think it should be based on time: ‘we grew up together, we know each other’s parents – we went to the same school, we’ve been through so much…’ As one gets older, you find friendship should be based on principles and values. We have the power to teach our friends our values – very easily, by being ourselves. However, if overtime values appear to be different – there is no need for an intimate relationship. If I am openly rebuked by a friend (v:5) – meaning my critical offence is exposed so that help and the correct treatment is rendered despite how I feel: I am Blessed. If my sin and critical behaviour is concealed and wrapped up in jokes in order not to offend me and to appear jolly in front of those who know we are friends: I am Doomed.
Be careful of those who kiss your ego because you live in the world of defense and emotion. Take a good look at yourself. I have found that it is not enough to say: ‘I will support so and so because he/she has found happiness or seems to be at peace with a decision which has no principle or spiritual backing. If we are to love, we are to love without misleading one another and sometimes that means being the only one who seems to oppose a seemingly good cause. Too often in my very short-time in ministry have I heard and shed tears about people who failed to adhere to sound advice and considered those who stood for truth as their enemy!
A prudent man sees evil and hides himself and avoids it,
But the naive [who are easily misled] continue on and are punished [by suffering the consequences of sin] – Pro 27: 12
Check your circle of influence always. What do they listen to? Are they submitted to a Spiritual Head? Or everything they do and say is: ‘not that deep?!’ If they are not around you all the time, who are they with and what values do those people uphold? Behaviour, of any kind, always begins with subtle suggestion or influence until they become a part of someone’s lifestyle.
How many scars can you count on your ‘arm’ which have been caused by painful wounds from a faithful friend? If you are that friend who stands for truth, please do not change or become intimidated by sharing your truth even if for a season, the relationship has ‘broken’ down. It often takes time to win a friend over depending on the circumstance: consistent prayer and a lifestyle so unapologetic is just the right type of love to render in the meantime without wavering from the truth. It is often lonely too – so be ready for it. Grace is available.
I often say, I can only speak on things I have experienced or know so I hope this helps. I have developed an intimate relationship with an unlikely candidate simply because I took the bold step of sharing what others were afraid to say: such person is now on the road to total divine recovery. Truth always sets free – IF received.
Remember, misery likes company. In our day, misery sadly is not obvious with endless photos of friends, parties and celebrations.
I thank God for the ‘Scars’ I have: each one reminds me of various special people!
Transparency brings Healing