Theme of the Week: The Redemptive Power of Godly Friendship
Bible Verse: Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. Proverbs 27:9
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 27:1-10
When Proverbs speaks of friendship, the reference is to non-romantic relationships, generally same-sex friendships. As wonderful as marriage can be, men need male friends and women need female friends. It’s just that simple. C.S. Lewis, a man who knew the satisfactions of deep romantic love, noted that one of his greatest joys came through his relationships with male friends, “My happiest hours are spent sitting up to the small hours in someone’s college room talking nonsense, poetry, theology, metaphysics over beer, tea and pipes. There’s no sound I like better than adult male laughter.”1
The book of Proverbs identifies at least three factors that are central to redemptive friendships: counsel, correction, and comfort. We will examine these three by focusing on a single proverb each.
A Friend Gives Earnest Counsel.
Throughout our lives we are faced with many major decisions: where to go to college, whom to marry, where to work. Is it time to change jobs? How should we discipline and educate our children? Should we buy a house? Where should we invest our money? What church should we attend? Besides these, life regularly presents us with lesser yet still significant decisions.
As Proverbs 15:22 tells us, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Do you want more of your plans to succeed? More of your decisions to be good and wise? Proverbs 27:9 advises you to seek “earnest counsel.” This is selfless, sincere guidance that has the friend’s best interests at heart.
Neither trite nor offered in haste, it is thoughtful, wise, godly counsel, always in keeping with Scripture, and shared after appropriate reflection and expressed with genuine concern. Such counsel is so rare and valuable that the writer compares it to perfume and incense, some of the most precious and delightful treasures of the ancient world.
Earnest counsel may at first be difficult to hear. But when wisely given and humbly received, we discover with joy that it is one of the elements that makes redemptive friendship so pleasant. Some translations of Proverbs 27:9 render “pleasant” as “sweet,” for truly such earnest counsel is the “sweet spot” of biblical friendship.
1 Cited by Lewis in a letter to MacMillian publishing company. As quoted in Alan Jacobs’ The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis, NY, NY:Harper Collins, 2005, xix
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