Saturday, July 8, 2023

Familiarity Breeds Contempt (Proverbs 25:17)

"Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house" (Prov. 25:17).

“Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—too much of you, and he will hate you” could be summed up in the old proverb “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Some people abuse friendships by being a nuisance. They visit at unexpected and inconvenient hours. They call often and want to talk endlessly about nonsensical subjects. Sometimes their dependency extends from the social sphere to the financial. This doesn’t mean we can never go to a friend for help, but to ask often breeds, not compassion, but contempt.

Solomon warned his son against this kind of transgression. While friends should depend upon one another, even the closest friendships can be abused. “Even the closer band of friendship requires its measure of prudent restraint,” Bridges writes. “It is worth all our care to preserve this invaluable blessing from interruption. It is the sweet of life. And yet in this honey, there may be an [excess]. Without mutual respect it may nauseate. Unseasonable interruption to our friend’s time; frequent visits without call or object; interference with his necessary engagements, or family comforts; inconvenient tax of expense—perseverance in this course might produce weariness, if not disgust, or even hatred.”

Bridges mentions the remedy of an overly indulgent friend—respect. Friends must share mutual esteem. If you respect your friend, you will respect their time, their commitments, their possessions. You will not try to monopolize their time, their property, or try their patience. A true friend will be considerate of another’s family and work schedule, prior commitments, and personal space.

If you find yourself encroaching on your friend’s time, consider whether you have neglected your friendship with the Lord. You can never visit God too often. He can meet your needs and dispel your loneliness more than any human friend. “Never can we come to our heavenly Father unseasonably,” Bridges wrote. “His gates are always open … The more frequent the visits, the more welcome, and the more fruitful. What with man would be intrusion, with God is confidence.” The child of God cannot presume upon this gracious privilege, but with “boldness of access” can seek the fellowship and grace of God at all times.

Do you have a friendship that is on the rocks? Could part of the problem be that you have become a nuisance? Do you sense a friend growing distant? Ask that friend if you have been inconsiderate. If someone is being inconsiderate to you, gently tell them. Ask them to give you space so your friendship can flourish.