A friend loves at all times,
and a relative is born to help in adversity.
The one who lacks wisdom strikes hands in pledge,
and puts up financial security for his neighbor.
Without getting all cheesy and Michael W. Smithy, let’s just quickly make it clear that the role of a friend is to love at all times. Not just when things are good in the relationship and you’re getting what you want out of the friend. If that’s how you view people, you won’t have friends. Friends aren’t there simply for you to get stuff from them. They are there for you to give to as well. When your view of friendship is just what you can get out of it, friends will be hard to come by.
Now, friends and neighbors aren’t necessarily the same thing. Sometimes they can be. Sometimes a neighbor can be closer than a friend. Other times you barely know them. I imagine that in the time this proverb was written that everyone knew their neighbors much more than we tend to know our neighbors nowadays. Regardless of all that, it’s just not wise to make pledges and put up financial securities for other people. Maybe not even for yourself.
Imagine the strife that could exist if you put up a financial security for your neighbor and they never paid you back. Things might get a little weird. “Hey, when do you think I might get my $10,000 back?” Ummmm.
Even if friend and neighbor are the same thing, does that mean we are supposed to give our friends down payments and help them make bad financial decisions. I’m going to go ahead and say no.
It all boils down to living the kind of life that ensures the longevity of relationships. The point isn’t just that you shouldn’t do this because you’ll be out of money, etc. The point is that we are supposed to be concerned about the people we are connected to. As you can see, pretty much every relationship is covered in this passage. Friends, Neighbors and Relatives.
What we need to do is care for the people around us. We need to do those things that let people know that we care for them. We need to do those things that let people know that we are there for them when they need it. We aren’t doing these things to build up a reserve of good deeds in our bank that we can draw from when we need them. Of course the hope is that, when we need something – there will be those who are willing to give it to us too. But that’s not the goal. Relationship is the goal. Relationship is what we are fighting to keep. Relationship is why we do or don’t do certain things. Relationship, not obligation. Relationship, not regulations. That’s why they’re called relationships and not regulationships. It’s not about the rules and regulations, it’s about the person.