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A True Friend Is...
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The wisdom literature of the Jewish sacred Scriptures contains the following proverb on friendship: "As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend" (Proverbs 27:17).

What's the wisdom here regarding the nature of healthy friendship?  Well, what's the point of sharpening iron? In ancient times, the purpose of sharpening iron was to maximize the use of that iron as a tool, whether for farming or military utility. In other words, the goal was to make the object into the best it could be, to fulfill it's ultimate purpose as effectively as possible. And what sharpened an iron tool best was another piece of iron.

I like this picture of friendship. Imagine being in a relationship with someone who does everything they possibly can, using their best strengths, to maximize you as a person, to empower you to live your highest purpose, to inspire you to live YOUR life not their or anyone else's agenda for your life, someone who truly believes in you in your truest self and encourages you to fulfill YOUR life and will gently hold you accountable to it. Would you enjoy a friend like that? Would you want more friends like that?

No Strings Attached

No wonder another of the wisdom proverbs says, "There are 'friends' who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).  Sometimes our biological families and other people who call themselves friends try to believe in and be supportive of us but underneath it all you sense that they really have their own agenda for you. How vital it is to have friends in our lives who want and are willing to help facilitate our best selves, our truest selves, no strings attached, people whose highest joy is seeing us living our highest joy.

So here are some reflection questions. How would you evaluate the friends in your life right now? Do they want you to be your best YOU? Does their belief in you empower you to live your truest self? Do you honor and respect your core identity? Are there other people who do this more meaningfully to you that you need to pull into your life more regularly instead?

And what about the flip side? What kind of friend are you? Do you use all your resources to empower and maximize your friends to be who they were meant to be? Do you support them in their attempts to live out their personal purpose?  

Iron that sharpens iron to restore its effectiveness and designed purpose. What an empowering quality for true friendship.

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Greg Nelson. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from The New Living Translation ©.

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