When you gain friends, gain them through testing, and do not trust them hastily.
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Sirach 6:7 (NRSV) – October 21, 2014)
My wife and I don’t like to admit it, but as we each have started our seventh decade on this planet we best do so . . . we have each made really bad decisions about trusting people we believed to be friends. We’ve had confidences betrayed; we’ve lost fairly large amounts of money in what turned out to be . . . if not scams, at least unscrupulous business deals. So ben Sira’s advice rings true.
On the other hand, we’ve had a great six decades, more than half of them together, with some lovely friends, with people we still think of fondly and even occasionally still hear from. Some of those people, if we’d followed this advice, we would never have been allowed closer than the other side of locked bars!
What’s better – to go through life constantly wary and on guard, or to be open to friendship and risk occasionally being hurt? I suppose that’s a question each individual must answer for him- or herself.
Jesus risked friendship. It may have brought him bickering from James and John, betrayal from Judas, denial from Peter, but it also brought him the love of devotion of Mary and Martha and, apparently, countless others.
My wife and I have to admit it; we’ve made some bad decisions about trusting people. I’m afraid we will do so again. But we also have some really great friends. I hope we will continue to make others. We’ve chosen to try and be like Jesus, after all.
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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.