A friend with skin on
For reading & meditation - Proverbs 27:17-27
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (v.17)
Sometimes I hear Christians say, "Why do I need friends? God is my friend - isn't that enough?" Such a statement demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of human relationships. Yes, we need God as our Friend - our close and most intimate Friend - but, as I once heard a little boy put it, "We need friends with skin on also." You won't know who you are until you are in a relationship. Paul Tillich, a well-known theologian, made the same point: "You don't really know yourself until you are put over against someone other than yourself." You see, if no one ever reflects to you how you come across, never challenges your views, never confronts you, never encourages you to talk out your problems, then parts of you remain undiscovered. Others can do that, of course, who are not friends, but it is best done by someone who knows you best. My favorite definition of a friend is: "someone who knows all there is to know about you and loves you just the same." Looking back on my life, I can see how valuable my friends have been to me. Because I have felt safe with them, I have been able to reveal myself and in the revealing I have come to know myself in a way that I could never have done with a mere acquaintance. Yes, we need God as our friend, but we need human friends also. This might be difficult for some to accept, but the more effectively we relate on a horizontal level with our human friends, the more effectively we will relate on a vertical level with our heavenly Friend.
Father, I see that my best friend is someone who brings out the best in me. Help me to be a best friend to someone - and bring out the best in that person. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
For Further Study
1. What did the onlookers say of Jesus' relationship to Lazarus?
2. How is Abraham described?