Often after we get together with friends, I ask my children about their time spent. Since we’ve been discussing wisdom, I often ask, “Is so-and-so a wise friend?” That’s because we are told in Scripture that a wise person looks for wise friends. Since we’ve been talking about wisdom, they know what that looks like.
Twice I’ve been disturbed to hear a child respond, “So-and-so is a good friend because he does whatever I want.” With images of my own children being manipulative and selfish, twice I stifled my lecture and decided to wait.
This morning, we started talking about friends again. As I started talking, I realized that “doing whatever I want” very well could be an unselfish child choosing to love a selfish one, so I decided to focus a bit on what makes THEM a good friend to others.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Philippians 2:3
The way I usually ask it is “Are you thinking of what you want more than what your friend/sister/brother wants?” I used to say “Are you thinking of your sister or are you thinking of yourself?” but they would always insist they were thinking of the other person. I finally realized that they WERE thinking of the other person, but not in the right way.
Today I asked them for examples of times when a friend might esteem others better than themselves. As usual, I give them many more examples than they come up with. Several times I gave the beginning of an example and then had them finish it. This was a good discussion. I’ve been focused so much on the wise friend (the one who helps his friend obey) that I’ve not considered the loving friend or humble friend in our talks.
Perhaps next time we get together with friends, my children will be the ones thinking of the other person. I think tomorrow we’re going to read the whole Philippians 2 passage.