Ever been in a friendship that has gone really wrong? It can be terribly painful. Proverbs warns us of some foolish things we can do with our friends that can strain even the strongest friendship.
1. Overstaying your welcome
"Seldom set foot in your neighbour’s house — too much of you, and he will hate you. (25:17)
In your enthusiasm for your friendship, make sure you don’t overdo it. If you call them every day, are always dropping over to their place, wanting to go out with them every weekend, they might feel a bit crowded. Give your friends a bit of space. Try and read the signs. Be considerate of the other’s feelings. Don’t overstay your welcome. It’s good to know when enough is enough.
2. Thoughtless jokes
Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows, is a man who deceives his neighbour and says, “I was only joking! (26:18-19)
Be careful of practical jokes, at laughing at the expense of someone else. Practical jokes might seem funny at first, but they can easily turn sour. And be careful of sarcasm, which can so easily cross the line and become ridicule.
3. Putting your foot in it
If a man loudly blesses his neighbour early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse. (27:14)
Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. (25:20)
These Proverbs are talking about saying the 'right' thing at the wrong time. Being overly joyful when your friend has had a bad day can be quite insensitive and cold. It is wise to be thoughtful about when to speak, (and what to say) and when to listen.
4. Gossip & slander
A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends. (16:28)
A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbour, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. (11:12)
Gossip can destroy friendships. A loyal friend and neighbour controls their tongue, and is gracious and not malicious when speaking about their friends and neighbours. It is very tempting to share “Christian concern” about someone, which is often just gossip rebranded. If you are not sure if you are sharing “Christians concern” or just plain gossiping, best not to say anything at all.
5. Going over a mistake
He who covers over an offence promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. (17:9)
Telling tales or continually bringing up a past matter can also destroy friendships. Maybe one of your friends wronged you a long time ago and you still haven’t gotten over it. You repeat it in your mind and you repeat it to others too. Through love, you need to forgive that offence and move on in your friendship, rather than letting it hold you back.
Have you made any of these mistakes? Maybe it’s time to say sorry, ask for forgiveness and change the way you interact with your friends.