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"One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18.24

Just taken my good friend, Robert, to the station for the early train to Inverness. I think it was my mother, also staying, who remarked how enduring can be the friendships of youth. It is indeed remarkable how those bonds formed over a relatively short period early on can remain with us throughout our lives, spanning even prolonged periods of non-contact when we are bringing up families or working overseas. Yet we find we are still at ease in one another's company, able to take up where we left off almost.

Proverbs warns against the danger of false friends, which is as much a caution against being a false friend as it is an alert to guard against unreliability in others. Yet it points to our ultimate friend, celebrated in the cherished hymn 'What a friend we have in Jesus...' This is also a reminder: to measure our relationships according to God's perfect example rather than projecting our tainted efforts and experiences onto God or, indeed, allowing our failures and inadequacies to influence our expectations of others.

How can I nourish those relationships which are vital to a rich and fulfilling life? I can start by being the friend and relative I would like others to be to me. And key to that will be staying close to our ultimate friend, who is also our Saviour and Lord...



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