I’ve always thought that Proverbs 18: 24 “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” meant this:
1. If you want lots of friends, be friendly for crying out loud!
2. Jesus is the friend who will stick closer to you than your fickle friends, the other committee members, or your sisters.
‘Turns out, this is not the correct interpretation. This proverb more likely means:
1. A person with lots of friends has to be friendly all of the time in order to maintain all of her friendships. Spread thin with so many friends, this person risks superficial relationships.
2. But, a person can experience a satisfying friendship when she invests in one genuine friend who is closer and deeper than family.
I was tipped off to this second interpretation by the footnote in my Bible and I’m so grateful. (The footnote: “This may also be interpreted, ‘A man of many friends comes to ruin'”). This proverb is refreshing my perspective about my relationships and adding clarity to my endeavors to know a few people well.
In our *facebooked* culture, we suffer from too many surface-y relationships. I’m sure we’ve all said it a million times: Though we have more connections than ever before, we lament our lack of true friendships.
When we meet someone who knows someone we know, we sigh gratefully and say “It’s a small world after-all!” But, it’s not a small world because we have a name in common, it’s a small world when we keep it small, investing deeply in a handful of people, getting closer than the blood in their veins.
(*not that Facebook is a bad thing in and of itself.Â Actually, it can be a useful way of being “closer than a brother”!)