Perfume and incense make the heart glad, the sweetness of a friend is better than one’s own counsel. [NRSV]
When one is too close to a situation, comradely advice is welcome. This is the sweetness of a friend. When one will tell you what is true even if it stings a little, because he cares so much about you, because she is a true friend.
To have a close friend always willing to show you what the reality of a situation is, and to always point you to truth, God’s truth, this is sweetness indeed.
Listening to yourself all the time is maddening, as probably most of us know. God knows our brains, and that we need each other, we need partnerships and community counsel. the mastermind principle: getting two or three minds working on something is exponentially better than a single mind. This is a very good thing, provided we are pointing each other to God, to His word, to True North.
Just as water reflects the face, so one human heart reflects another. [NRSV]
In this translation verse 19, I see that the quieter the water, the more calm, the more accurate the reflection. It is when we are still and listening to one from our heart, that we most accurately show them their own heart. And the heart-thoughts, affections, intentions-is who we really are.
There’s what we do, and there’s who we are. It is possible to help someone with something, whether it be moving, giving a ride, listening to them lament, while simultaneously having contempt for them in your heart. So at the end of the day, are you a helpful person or a contemptuous person? Or both?
If you want to really counsel someone well, it is not done best when you’re busy, moving fast, and telling them what to do. It is best done when you are calm, quiet, reflective, listening to them and the Holy Spirit, because then you can best show them what is true of themselves and a situation in a way that they can see it for themselves.
Seth Godin says in his book Tribes, that people don’t believe what you tell them, but they ALWAYS believe what they tell themselves. It may be subtle, but we help people best not when we just tell them what to believe, but when we show them what to tell themselves to believe.
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.
I just love that it was a rich guy who took the body of the dead Jesus, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and put it in his own tomb. After Jesus saying how hard it is for rich people to enter the kingdom of heaven (yet possible with God and His power) we see a rich man who was a disciple of Jesus given special mention in the Bible.
Isn’t it like our God to keep us guessing with his mysterious goodness? Jesus talked so much about money, yet here we are affirmed that it surely does not keep you out of His kingdom, of His use. What an incredible honor, to be the one who took care of Jesus Christ’s body after His death! And it was a rich dude!
I’m gaining more love and compassion for rich people as I write this. Of course, all of us in America are super rich in global terms, but I’m talking about those filthy rich Christians that I find so easy to look at with contempt. Perhaps they are true disciples of Jesus, created for a very special task in the Kingdom.