Proverbs 18:24 “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
I’m mourning the loss of a friend today. No, it wasn’t death that caused the absence; the friend is very much alive. There had been and still is a like-mindedness between us that brought laughter, tears and much joy. I believe that characteristic of our friendship is still there, but what is lacking is what is spoken about in this verse.
Being a friend to someone requires effort.The expression “showing himself friendly” can represent just about every action concerning the relationships in our lives. Here’s a few tips I would like to list regarding this counsel:
1.) Greet people with a smile. (I think that shows you being friendly, doesn’t it?) Most of the time they will smile back. It feels nice to be in the presence of someone who is kind and cheerful! Even the most cranky-looking people will usually crack a grin, if you initiate one first!
2.) Be a good listener. If this friend is going to be sticking around, there will be plenty of other opportunities for you to share what you have to say. Your willingness to hold back and allow the other person to speak shows how much you value their opinion.
3.) Don’t be critical. Your friend may say something that you don’t agree with and that’s OK. Life would be boring if all of our friends were just like us! Speak the truth but speak it in love, with the right motives. Think before you say something too unflattering! A good rule-of-thumb is to put yourself in their shoes, and think of how you would feel if you heard the same words spoken out loud to you!
4.) Tell your friend how much you appreciate your friendship.It doesn’t have to be verbally expressed. Write a note or find a funny Hallmark card that conveys the right balance of emotional support. If your friend is a long-distance acquaintance, pick up the phone or send a text message (include emoticons!). Any kind of “I’m thinking about you today” gesture is an encouraging display of “showing yourself friendly.”
5.) Don’t have too high expectations. Life gets complicated and we all get caught up in the various commitments we have (i.e. family, career, etc.). Time may get away from both of you because of external demands and obligations. Don’t dwell on those issues; just enjoy the next chance you have to re-connect with your friend!
6.) Pray for your friend. There is a certain humbleness that comes from the action of prayer. Being transparent with a holy God about our friendships will help us to realize that no one is perfect, and even our earthly friends will sometimes disappoint us. The only one who can truly fill every physical, emotional and spiritual need is our heavenly Father.
No doubt about it–friendships take time and attention. But, when built upon a foundation of trust, honesty and appreciativeness, they become a blessing that lasts for years and years! Watch for those who cross your paths—they could be a future friend! Make sure to show yourself friendly!