Another Word…by Gus Keiser

January 23, 2017

 

There are friends who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

                                                                                                                     Proverbs 18:24

 I received an email this week from my best friend from high school. He and I have kept in constant touch since he doubly surprised me with an email several years ago.  It was a double surprise because we had not seen or been in contact with each other in almost thirty years, and I was also surprised because I never thought of him as becoming some tech savvy person.  Now we send and receive emails at least once a month, talk on the phone several times through the year, and get together for lunch every October when I make my annual cider run back to Central Pennsylvania.

Now, while my next few thoughts may seem to have nothing in common with the paragraph about my old high school friend, hang with me for a paragraph or two.

One of God’s creatures that has always fascinated me is the spider. I’m fascinated by their species variety, their various behaviors, and the sheer beauty that some of them possess.  One species of spider native to various areas of the United States and also throughout the world is the crab spider.  It’s one of the more unusual of the arachnid grouping.  Unlike most other spiders, they don’t rely on a spun web to trap their prey.  Instead, they hide in flowers and wait for a honeybee, beetle or butterfly to come by searching for nectar.  Then they pounce, grabbing the insect with their powerful forelegs, and biting it.  With some varieties of this spider their powerful venom does the rest.

But insects are not this spider’s sole diet. The male of some species of crab spiders also sip on nectar and eat pollen.  Think about that fact for a minute.  Both the crab spider and the honeybee drink the same nectar.  From that liquid, the honeybee makes honey.  The crab spider produces poison.  Same liquid ingestion with two very different results.

The same is true of people. All of us breathe air and drink water.  We share some of the same experiences, but what we do with them, or what we “produce,” can be dramatically different.

There are those of us eager to gain wisdom. We people apply what we learn to our everyday lives, including our relationships.  When we see others going through difficult times, we offer practical help.  We offer prayers, send notes of support, visit, and share in the struggle.  We’re very careful our their words, offering only truth and encouragement.  Like the bee, we produce honey.

And then there’s the “crab spider” crew who think they already know everything they need to know. They don’t even bother to seek God’s wisdom.  They live their lives consumed with their own desires, not really caring what happens to anyone else.  Sometimes they will initiate a conversation and seem friendly, but all they’re really doing is gleaning tidbits of gossip to spread around and looking for things to criticize… all for the purpose of causing immeasurable harm.  These “crab spiders” produce poison.

These honeybees and crab spiders can be found everywhere…in schools, at the office, in our families, and, yes, even in our churches.

While growing up, I remember my mother’s sage, old advice about making friends; Take time to observe the behavior of others before building friendships. Sometimes the people who greet you first are not always the ones who will make trustworthy friends.  So always be polite, but watch carefully how people treat one another before establishing a friendship.  Carefully avoid the so-called friends who destroy each other.  It’s Proverbs that reminds us to seek true friends who will stick closer than a brother.

I was never lucky enough to have a biological brother, but I am blessed to call my friend “brother,“ both in life and in Christ.

So be careful to avoid the crab spiders as you seek out the honeybees in this life.

Lord, what a friend we have in you. Amen.

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