Sirach 6:5-17 (CEB)
Pleasant speech gains more friends for itself, and a sweet-speaking tongue will multiply pleasant exchanges. Let those who are at peace with you be many, but let only one in a thousand be your advisor. If you make friends, test them thoroughly and don’t trust them quickly. Some are friends when it is convenient, but they won’t stay around during hard times. There are friends who turn into enemies, and they will reveal your disgraceful arguments. There are friends who are companions at your table, but they won’t stay during hard times. They will act as if your belongings are theirs, and they will be bold toward your household slaves. If you are brought low, they will be against you, and they will abandon you. Stay away from your enemies, and be careful with your friends. Trustworthy friends are a strong shelter; whoever finds one has found a treasure. Trustworthy friends have no price, and no one can estimate their worth. Trustworthy friends are life’s medicine, and those who fear the Lord will find them. Those who fear the Lord will direct their friendships well, because they will associate with people of like mind.
OK – first an apology to Bible Gateway for my comment yesterday that they did not have Ecclesiasticus – they do, they just have it under the name “Sirach”!
It wasn’t a quick one-off visit – we are back in there for day 2! Today – “friends”.
We’ve all had that friend who was a bit too bold towards our household slaves, haven’t we?
Seriously, though, I groaned when I heard this.
You see, I simply don’t have the kind of friends that this passage is describing. I don’t have the ones that are described by more modern language – “soulmates”, “besties”, BFFs… I have lots of accquaintances, I have mates, I have plenty of company, people know me, I’m never lonely, but I don’t “DO” the kind of friendship described here.
That feels like a big admission – as if it makes me some kind of a weird billy-no-mates social pariah, borderline psychopath – but I can only tell it as it is.
In many ways I am a lot like my dad.
I could sit here and analyse this – I have been doing today as I cycled to Exeter and back, mowed the lawn, did some garden work and put up the bird boxes… I know I am basically an Introvert – that’s not a disease or a confession of weakness – it’s just who I am! I have moved about a lot – never being long in one place – maybe I have got used to not putting down roots – living an easy-come/easy-go life – if I don’t make strong attachments then it’s not that much of a wrench when I move on and leave them all behind. There might be a thousand reasons… but I don’t really care that much!
Truth is, I am happy! If you were starting to feel sad for me – then DON’T! No – really – DON’T!
This isn’t a national appeal – find a bestie for poor Phil! (do NOT apply on a postcard!)
I like my own company – I’m a great person to be with – so that makes sense! I invest what I have in my small family, I have all the human company and closeness and love and dependence and feelings of being needed that I need and want.
So passages like this leave me thinking that I am very happy for everyone else who DOES enjoy this kind of friendship. Maybe in the past it would have left me with a nagging sense of inadequacy – but not anymore. I am comfortable with who I am and happy in my own skin!
there – I’ve said it! So – if you have one – go and enjoy some time with your bestie, I’m off to trawl Netflix! 😉
(errrr…. what did I say??? STOPPIT – I can just TELL you are feeling sorry for me! STOPPIT! STOPPIT AT ONCE!)