“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24, NIV).
“Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life,” C.H. Spurgeon wrote. “Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend." This is the kind of friend I wish to be–one who knows I can't solve a problem or fix an issue, but who realizes that in listening to my friend's heart, I have given the very best I can give. I want to be a faithful sounding board, encourager, and someone my friend can lean on.
Have you ever tried to help a friend, and ended up hurting him instead? Was it something you were certain would bring relief, but all it did was bring more pain? Sometimes in an attempt to lessen a friend's pain and ease a breaking heart, we attempt to fix something that we don't really understand. Only the Holy Spirit does. Sometimes the Holy Spirit does guide and give direction to encourage our friend, but it is always His place to do the work. We can't fix anything. Only He can. Look at Job's friends. Job didn't ask for their advice, but they gave it anyway. They believed that they were helping Job with their insight. All they did was hurt him with their judgments and accusations. They really didn't understand the larger picture, and neither do we.
If a friend shares his heart, he has trusted you enough to make himself vulnerable to what you think of him and to your assessment. If your friend comes to you seeking advice, pray for God's wisdom and always extend the grace of honesty without judging him. If you are a loving friend, and not a “Job” friend, you will know that you don't have all the answers, but you will carefully listen. If the Holy Spirit gives you insight, you will only offer that insight, and not place any expectation upon your friend. You make a suggestion, and also make it clear that you love him no matter what–that you do not have all the answers. God extends free will to us, and we must do the same. We can't demand anything of anyone, but we can love completely with His love that sees potential without passing judgment. There is no greater love than when we give ourselves for our friends. We must lay down all our human judgment or preconception or expectation. We must release all this so then we are free to love. We just love with His love, and then all things are possible.
My friend, if I ever make mistakes that hurt you, please forgive me. I don't do them on purpose. I try to be the best friend that I can be, but I often fail. When I hurt so much for you and want desperately to help, I often confuse you, and try to fix things that I should never attempt to fix. The best I can do for you is pray for you and ask the Holy Spirit to make me sensitive to your needs, and keep me from making mistakes or saying things that hurt you. I will always pray for your needs, your healing, and for God to heal any pain that comes into your life. If He wishes to use me, I will make myself available. But I will never assume it is my place to do anything but surrender to Him. If you come to me asking for advice, I will pray for His guidance and His heart. I pray that in our mutual surrender, we will know His peace and joy and have a greater sensitivity to Him and to each other. I pray we both discover those unfathomable depths of His unconditional love.