Friendship is one of the biggest blessings of life. One reason why many people can successfully go through life’s challenges is that they have wonderful friends. Some friends stick with people even more than how a close relative will (Proverbs 18:24). No matter what happens, a friend will always love you (Proverbs 17:17).
Friendship is magical, miraculous and sensational. You can be yourself before a friend without feeling ashamed. It is one of the most powerful bonds that can ever exist on earth. David and Jonathan were just friends but their hearts were already knit to one another (1 Samuel 18:1). No wonder David never forgot Jonathan even after his death.
Similarly, as the relationship between Jesus and his disciples deepened, he began to call them friends (John 15:15). This means that even God wants to have friendship with us his people.
There are many functions or roles a friend can play in a man’s life. However, Proverbs 27:9 shows us the way the sweetness of a friend can be felt: through heartfelt counsel. Friendship is not all about cracking jokes and laughing hard, there must be some value that is being added to both parties in friendship.
If you cannot tell your friend the truth through counselling, you should reconsider if that person is truly your friend. Friends must be able to sit each other down to guide themselves in times of need.
The love that exists in the bond of friendship is what births heartfelt counsel. This is one of the ways your impact can be felt in a friend’s life. When last have you given your friends heartfelt counsel? When last did you show them the right way by your words?
One way to get counsel that will help your friends is by praying for them regularly. If you pray for your friends, the Holy Spirit will drop some things about them in your heart. From what the Holy Spirit tells you, you will be able to advise them according to God’s mind.
Counselling is a major element of friendship. It is what even determines whether your sweetness as a friend is being felt or not. Instead of gossiping or thinking excessively about a friend, why not take a bold step to counsel them. When you notice something wrong in your friend’s life, don’t castigate them, the solution to their problems can be in the counsel you give them.
Do you have sweet friends? Are you a sweet friend yourself? This can only be known through the level of heartfelt counsel that goes on in the friendship.
How Do I Counsel My Friends?
Now that we know how important counsel is in friendship, how do we go about it? Here are some strategies to counsel your friends so that your sweetness will be felt in the friendship:
Pray Before Counselling
The heart of any man is in God’s hands (Proverbs 21:1). God can open your friend’s heart to your counsel even before you open your mouth to speak to them. Counselling without prayer is like trying to smash through a rock. Only the word of God can pierce through the hearts that seem unreachable. When we pray before counselling, God puts his words in our mouths and this is a much more effective way of passing a message across to your friend.
Counsel In Love
Love is very essential in counselling. No matter how true your counsel is, if it does not come lovingly, your friend is most likely not to hear you. The Bible asks us to speak the truth but it must be in love (Ephesians 4:15). No matter what your friend has done wrong, do not judge or condemn your friend. Remember that the Bible only asks us to give our friends heartfelt counsel. Heartfelt counsel must be birthed by love for your friend.
Counselling your friend in love means that you must choose your words carefully as you counsel your friend. Don’t make them feel bad or insult them. Just pass your message across to them and trust God to help them to make the right choice. Don’t counsel your friend to prove a point or to expose their weakness. This is not counselling in love.
Tell Your Friend The Truth
You owe your friend the duty to tell them the truth always. When others do not tell your friend the truth, your friend should be able to resort to you for a truthful and sincere opinion on the matter. The need to counsel your friend in love may tempt you to bend the truth a little while counselling them. However, the Bible emphasizes that we must tell the truth. Love is always truthful; it does not accommodate lies.
Whatever happens, tell your friends the truth. Do it gently and respectfully but, let them know the truth as you counsel them. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom on how best to communicate the truth without compromise.
Use The Right Words
The right word spoken at the right time can break through the greatest barriers. The right words are forcible and penetrative. They can permeate anywhere (Job 6:25). A sentence that contains the right words can do much more than hours of argument will do.
As you counsel your friends, use loving and caring words. Let your words bring comfort and hope to your friends. Do not let your words further complicate the matter you are trying to advise them on. Avoid arguments or raising your voice at your friend. Avoid playing the blame game with your friend while counselling them.
As right words penetrate through a man’s heart, so can the wrong words harden their heart all the more. Watch what you say to your friend during counselling.
Your presence in your friend’s life should make a difference in their lives. Godly, heartfelt counsel is one of the ways to achieve this. Make sure to always show your friends the right path to tread.
King James Version (KJV)
“Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.”
New International Version (NIV)
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.”
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“Perfume and incense make the heart glad, but the soul is torn by trouble.”
New American Bible (NASB)
“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, And a person’s advice is sweet to his friend.”
English Standard Version (ESV)
“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.”
The Living Bible (TLB)
“Friendly suggestions are as pleasant as perfume.”