Loyalty and dependability aren’t feelings or opinions — they are demonstrated actions.
The words trustworthy and reliable are also similar.
And Proverbs 17:17 ties specific noun titles (friend, brother) to these descriptive adjective traits (loyal, dependable) so that we can know “how it is”, not just “how it would ne” or “how it should be”.
I realize that statement might not immediately make sense, “how it is” versus “how it would be” or “how it should be”. But I want to talk about it because perspective is key on this topic.
If I were to say “I’m a bird”, you might immediately say, “But you have a mouth instead of a beak, you have hair and not feathers, you have and and not wings, you walk and do not fly.” It should seem obvious to us that one set of items are about “how it is” for two different things. “Mouth”, “hair” and “walk” are about how it is to be a human mammal. While “beak”, “feathers” and “wings” are about how it is to be a bird.
“How it is” is the truth and the reality. Any time we step into language like “how it should be” or “how it would be”, we have left the realm of reality and entered into the realm of non-truth and imagination.
Just as it would be stupid for a mother to let her child believe he is truly a bird when they are standing atop a skyscraper, it is equally as stupid for us to say that we are a “friend” or a “brother” if the terms “loyal” and “dependable” aren’t “how it is”.
Hear me again, if “loyal” and “dependable” aren’t “how it is”, we are NOT a “friend” or a “brother”. If you feel like you just got stabbed by a sword, stick with me. I’m not here to hurt you, and you don’t want to give up half way through a surgery just because a cut has been made.
When it comes to truly being a “friend” and a “brother”, the following are cop outs and excuses that are used to avoid repentance — the “how it should be” or “how it would be” perspectives are enablers for continued unhealthy behavior that reveals something about “who we truly are”. We can make excuses and try to pretend, but the evidence is clear if we are not a “bird”, a “friend” or a “brother”.
Most of us know that it would be silly for us to try and transform ourselves into a bird. And quite honestly, if you are not a friend or a brother, if you are not loyal, dependable, trustworthy and reliable — no amount of self-help teaching is going to change who you are at your core. We might hide it and pretend (like a child at Halloween), but that doesn’t make it so.
There is an Almighty God who speaks things and makes it so. He not only creates, but He transforms. It is His will that we truly desire to be a friend and a brother. He can and He will change a person at their core. I have experienced it myself, and those around me can confirm this outwardly visible evidence of a true inner transformation.
Yet, I too have to repent and surrender daily when I see that the truth of “how it is” starts slipping into any excuses of “How it should be”.
Let’s surrender and ask God to heal us in these areas, my friends. Let’s not just commit to striving and trying to be better — Let’s rely upon and trust God in this, so that everyone might feel awe and wonder at what God has accomplished.
Let’s not lie when we say, “I am your friend and your brother.”
One thought on “How it Is versus How It Would Be”
The words “friend” and “brother” are supposed to be the nouns that these adjectives describe. Admittedly, sometimes someone might call me a “friend” or a “brother” as a term of endearment (especially when it comes to people I serve or support because of their needs). But I do not always feel worthy of that noun.
Sometimes things get tight financially and I choose to not fulfill a certain need. And sometimes things get busy and I choose to not fulfill a certain act of service.
These choices come down to my priorities.
And sometimes my priorities are properly aligned (so that I might still be “dependable” by definition), but sometimes I just don’t have everything perfectly sorted and ordered in my life.
The key isn’t for me to keep a scoreboard of pride and shame about the past — but to recognize, learn from it, and make necessary adjustments right now. Not excuses. Not promises. Not tomorrow. Now.