Friendship Is Rewarding

Historically the best teachers have taught best by example. Socrates never wrote anything. He was a peripatetic teacher. That is, he taught while walking. One young man who walked with him was Plato. Plato was the teacher of  Aristotle. Aristotle influenced young Alexander whose exploits resulted in his being called “the Great.” Those best at exhortation have by their example leaped across generations to influence lives.

Augustine held high the torch of faith amid the ruins of a collapsing civilization. The flicker of that torch was seen years later by Martin Luther. Luther dared the authorities of both church and state with his faithful, “Here I stand.”

Balthasar Hubmaier refused to compromise his convictions and carried the banner of truth as an example to those of his day. By his example a little band of Anabaptists pushed the Reformation beyond the Reformers.

These were show-and-tell Christians. Now it is our turn.

“A man starts to grow old,” wrote Sir William Osler, “when he stops making new friends.” How rapidly are you aging?

A common thread runs through friendships of all types: openness. People like friends who are human. They are comfortable around persons who feel and share. To be such a person heed this advice of Ben Franklin said, “Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody.”

“A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends.” (Proverbs 16:28)

Our speech is one direct method of communication, but by no means the only one. Authorities in the field conclude the following. Seven percent  is communicated  by the  particular words we utter. Twenty-eight per cent is transmitted by how we say those words (tone and inflection of voice). Fifty-five per cent is conveyed by non-verbal cues (facial expressions, gestures, etc.).

For a better understanding of why tone and inflection are more than five times as influential as the actual word chosen, try this. Try saying, “I love you.” Say it first with warm sincerity. Repeat it as though it is a question. Now say it with force and anger.

Words referring to speech appear over 150 times in the Book of Proverbs. The book is worth reading one time just to observe references to the tongue, lips, mouth, and words.  

Improper speech does not simply involve four-letter words. It includes deceit, slander, boasting, and inordinate argument. The “Talmud” contains this comment: “The slanderous tongue kills three: the slanderer, the slandered, and him who listens to the slander.”

A key to friendships is found in Proverbs 18: 22: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly…”

The greatest friendship of all was shown at Calvary. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)