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By Jeff Smith
Special to The PREVIEW
Years ago, a very wealthy friend of ours needed someone he could trust to clean his house.
He approached my wife with an offer of part time work. The money wasn’t huge, but it was above minimum wage.
Then he said this: “I could pay you ten times that amount, a hundred times that amount and I wouldn’t miss it, but I would lose you as a friend.”
Solomon was the wise king of Israel who lived 3,000 years ago. I suppose if you are a king, you never know who your friends are. The money and the power always messes up just shooting the breeze and being normal. So you have to be up front with people about certain things, like this friend of ours had to be with us. I see the reason for it: wealth can isolate.
I’ve been reading the sixth chapter of Solomon’s book of Proverbs in the Bible, in the morning, coffee cup in hand. The themes of freedom keep appearing in this chapter; freedom from debt, poverty, from the swindler. This is the next section:
“Six things are hated by the Lord; seven things are disgusting to him: Eyes of pride, a false tongue, hands which take life without cause; A heart full of evil designs, feet which are quick in running after sin; A false witness, breathing out untrue words, and one who lets loose violent acts among brothers.” Proverbs 6:16-19
It seems that God has the same problem our wealthy friend had. Who wouldn’t want God as a friend? Think of all the favors He could do for us if we were buds. Does God want to be our friend? From what I read, yes. Friendship with Him in some ways is not that different from any other friendship. But in some ways it is.
Those of us who think God is mad at them all the time and those who think God is senile and just wants us all to have a good time need to listen up: a holy God cannot have a friend who is like this or does these things. He hates evil and He has a special hatred for those who are really good at it. He is not being mean to point this out. He is being fair. Not being a target of His patient anger is a good thing.
But check this out: his list is short, it is not beyond our reach and He can help us change those things we can’t. And if we pursue being His friend and start to lose a lot of our selfish, evil habits in the process, we are going to be okay.
It is not wrong to be upfront with friends about the issues we have. Real people, who want real friends know that all of us have things we believe that we just can’t give ground on. It is good for those who want to have friends to keep that list short and have it be made up of only major, vital things. Those of us who want to be friends should be aware of those lists and feel free to explore them when needed. If the process is good enough for God, it should be okay for us too.
“Want To Be Wise? Applying the Wisdom Of Solomon To the Modern Issues We All Face,” by Jeff Smith, is available through Wine Press Publishers and Amazon.com.
My blog can be found at www.want2Bwise.blogspot.com.
We invite all faith writers to write for this column. 500 to 800 words. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.