1Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.
2A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.
3When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt, and with ignominy reproach.
4The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.
5It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment.
6A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.
7A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
8The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
9He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.
10The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.
11The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.
12Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
13He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
14The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?
15The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.
16A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.
17He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.
18The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.
19A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.
20A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.
21Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
22Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.
23The poor useth intreaties; but the rich answereth roughly.
24A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
Loneliness seems to be at an epidemic level. Even though we have more ways than ever to reach out to others and to be reached by others, feeling lonely is still a common complaint. These feelings often lead to depression, anxiety, and thoughts of worthlessness.
I know that this has been true in my own life.
For a very long time I had no close friends. I had no one who I felt comfortable being transparent with; no one who I really saw as my best friend. This issue was made worse in my mind because my older brother didn’t have this problem. He had several close friends who were there for him through the good times and the bad. I felt like I had no one.
I finally figured something out, though. Instead of trying to find friends, I needed to focus on being a friend. Or as Proverbs18: 24says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly.” Once I figured that out, once I stopped focusing on the actions of others and started focusing on my own actions, making friends became a little easier.
Especially when I figured out how to show myself friendly. Some of what I learned can be found in the rest of chapter 18.
I learned that I needed to be confidential because “the words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly (v.8).” Being a good friend requires me to be trustworthy; for others to be transparent with me they must know that what they share will not be spread.
I learned to really listen to someone before answering because to answer before listening is “folly and shame (v.13).” To be a friend, I had to learn to actively listen to what others were saying. And when I listen to what they are saying I can speak with empathy and understanding. Like friends do.
I learned that every word said is important because “death and life are in the power of the tongue (v.21).” Everyone I encounter is either discouraged or has the ability to easily become discouraged. I need to be speaking encouraging words of life. And if I do that there is a greater likelihood that I will hear the same.
While I learned these lessons, there is a great difference between learning something and doing something. I still often fail to do what I have learned.
But I’m still growing, still progressing, still not done.
If we want to overcome loneliness and all of the bad things that come with it by having friends, we must show ourselves friendly. To make friends we must be friends.
It really is that simple.
Matt Cannon (aka @Seekingpastor) on Twitter, seeks to live, laugh, and love like Jesus and to help others do the same. He is a husband, a father of 5, a bivocational pastor of Stoney Point Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN, and most importantly a child of God.