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The Measure of a Friend

May 31, 2011

Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. Prov. 27:9

I am going to give a true shout-out to all my friends this evening, because I have some true friends. These aren’t convenient companions, or a company of commonality. These are my true sisters in Christ. Why? How would I know? Because I can measure them by their fruit and their fruit by the word of God. Do you need some help figuring out who is your friend and who is just a common occurrence? Read on, my friend, read on.

I have referenced the above verse before in regard to a wonderful time of fellowship I had with my friend, Abbey Woodard. We have known each other since high school – you know, “B.C.”. I will not spill her junk here, but suffice it to say we have gone through some stuff and know stuff about each other. One of the best days in my life, one etched so gloriously in my memory, was the day we reunited after years apart only to find we had both come to the wise conclusion of radical, loving salvation through a personal faith in Jesus Christ.

Since then we have kept in touch through the years. We don’t see each other every day. We don’t have a lot of commonality in our every day lives. But the crucial commonality we have causes us to be even closer than sin ever held sway for either of us. She loves me and I know this. I mean truly loves me. She rejoices in my successes and mourns with me in my trials. As I do her. I love you, Abbey Woodard! Because you love God, and you love me. Thank you for being my friend.

He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail. Job 17:5

Another mark, besides the mark of Christ in each of my friends is: they don’t talk smack to me. They don’t flatter me as I do not flatter them. I am probably a little more harsh than most of my friends because my personality is such that I honor truth so I tend to speak it. Sometimes rightly sometimes wrongly, but always with the right love toward them. That’s how I’ve managed to keep such awesome friends: they know my heart is pure towards them, even when I mess up. And I note the same mark of honest truth in love in them towards me.

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Prov. 17:17

This is my friend Eva Miller. She loves me when I’m right. She loves me when I’m wrong. And she has NEVER said, “I told you so.” If I ask she will re-evaluate something and point out “that is why I had said…” and I can totally receive that. But, as she will tell you my mark towards her is: I’m her chihuahua. It’s a joke now, but once she told me in passing as we approached a social scrapbooking event that the last time she had been there a lady had sort of verbally snapped at her. The hair raised up on the back of my neck as my lip started to curl. I calmly replied: And here you’ve brought your chihuahua. She laughed. She bought me a chihuahua bracelet. But you know if you’ve ever had one at your heel or go squirrel in your lap, it ain’t pretty when chihuahua’s attack. Now, I’m not saying it’s right or Christian every time, but in the sense that I was born to defend my friends, my “brothers, aka sisters” in Christ, it is in Christ-like nature to want to defend my friend. And she does this for me as well.

Two times that are etched in my memory are when I lamented to her I was probably going to be judged as showing off if I sang the song I had written for my pastor’s wife to her in front of everyone at the birthday luncheon. My friend Eva encouraged me to give what God gave me, to give without fear of man’s hang-ups. If she hadn’t risen up to defend me, I don’t think I would have delivered that precious gem to its intended receiver.

Another time I poured out my perception of people watching me be overwhelmed with six small children. I felt they often came to the conclusion I shouldn’t have had so many kids. She rose up again to dispel such propaganda: There’s moms who are overwhelmed with one kid so they can just shut up! Oh, how I could feel the truth she just delivered, but also her defense coming to my aid. And I am so grateful. Thank you Eva Miller for loving me, defending me and being my best friend!

I have two other friends whom I love because they love me at all times: Mara-lee Stricker and Kim McGillivray. When I was first walking in a radical interpretation and crazy love for Jesus I wanted to “minister” to people. That was my new-fangled term for counseling and basically telling my friends what they should and shouldn’t be doing. I’ve always done that, but now I could slap a fancy term on it! It has always been my desire to be a good listener and really care about what’s going on in people’s lives. People actually appreciate 90% of that. Now I could do it with the wisdom of God and his love for people! These two ladies loved me when I was still messin up a lot of my “truth in love” ministry. Their acceptance of me and receiving from me did more to propel me to be a better minister than all the teaching and discipline from a book or a class could have offered. I love you Mara-lee and Kim! Thank you for being true friends to me and loving me even when I’m not lovely. That is surely the love of Jesus! In fact Mara-lee inspired this post with her faithful love for me this evening.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Prov. 27:6

My friend Dee Love. We admired each other from across a crowded room – literally – my living room! Our home group needed a place to move which became my house! I watched Dee and her husband each week rightly divide the word of God and I admired their commitment to a personal knowledge of God in spirit AND in truth. We became fast friends. We have seen each other through some rough times.

Which brings me to why the above verse is so appropriate to our friendship. Because while Dee loves me and I love her at all times, while we appreciate the sweetness of each other’s counsel and do not engage in flattering, we – me more than she, she would say! – are faithful to wound each other! No, not that kind of wound. don’t you know a doctor wounds you when he injects antibiotics? He has to pierce your skin! That antibiotic has to forcefully separate and then marinate and finally disseminate through your flesh! And you know: it hurts! When you go into surgery there is a deep cutting that takes time to recover from. And there is a purposeful pain that comes from the popping of an infected boil upon your skin. This is Dee and I. And I cannot convey how much I love it.

She does not love me or my feelings more than she loves the truth of God. And because she loves me she gives me the truth of God. And I do the same for her. What good am I if let you stew in your own deceived, or bitter “truth” which isn’t truth – that’s the point. There’s only one truth, and it’s truth that sets us free. Not hurtful, frustrated, or jealous “facts”, real, truth which God calls timely words – like apples of gold in settings of silver. That’s what we gift each other on a regular basis.

I not only love what I receive from her but that she receives the same from me. I don’t have to sugar-coat things for Dee, or wait for her to be “ready”; she’s always ready for God’s truth in a situation. Don’t misunderstand me and think we think we’re each other’s Holy Spirit. No one is the Spirit of God; but every Christian has the Spirit of God. and as Dee says, “Game recognize game”. We recognize and love the truth of God in each other’s truthful counsel. And I “Love” that. I love my friend, Dee Love. She is so good for me, like “laughter is good medicine for the bones”. We do a LOT of that too. I love you, Dee Love! I love your truth, and I love our laughter.
God has blessed me in many ways. But I thank him tonight with a long tribute to my wonderful friends. He shows me through them that He is sticking to me closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24

Do you have real friends. Why or why not?

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