Sweet (Without Even Wincing)
“Sweetness” has become a relative term, applied to the things that naturally cause us to feel a sense of happiness. Like a child who can no longer appreciate the natural sweetness of an apple because he has eaten too many gummy worms, our soul’s tastebuds are no longer able to distinguish what is naturally sweet to the soul. Additionally, like a child on too much sugar, we continue to hunger for the true sustenance of our soul. We are sickly, spastic, and generally unhealthy in our thinking, feeling, and doing without real nourishment for our hearts.
Perhaps this is why I do not understand this particular descriptor. Those who know me well have overheard me say, “I am many things, but ‘sweet’ is not one of them.” I am neither sugary or flowery in my words or deeds. I consider myself practical, kind, and above all, honest. “Sweetness” has never quite…fit. I must admit, I winced a little when I read Proverbs 27:9: “The sweetness of a friend…” Ugh. There’s that word again.
Some versions of the Bible translate Proverbs 27:9 - “a man’s hearty counsel is sweet to his friend” or “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” Other words used are “wise advice”, “sincere counsel”, and “earnest counsel”. The Hebrew word for “man” means more than just “that dude over there”. It is the same word used in Genesis 1-3, when God breathed life into existence, and created man with His very breath. Literally…He BREATHED into Adam’s nostrils the psyche – the soul, essence, and very personhood of what it means to be human. This word encapsulates all that a person is: mind, body, and soul – all of it bound together in one fleshly package.
In Luke 6:45 Jesus tells us clearly that “It is from the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks”. What we say comes from these depths within – from who we really are. This is the source of a friend’s counsel. Advice comes from what they believe, what they have experienced and learned, and what they desire for the future. The Bible says one can get lost in the deep waters of the soul, but men with understanding can draw meaning from inner depths. (Proverbs 20:5)
Taken together, these are the things that I can understand as pleasantly sweet: understanding, sincerity, wisdom, heartfelt, and earnest counsel. Yes, these things are indeed sweet to my soul – and to every soul. Nothing like the sugarcoated, fake compliments or the trite cliches that spoil my heart’s appetite for the truth. These things are just the real, good stuff that every soul needs to heal hurts, establish healthy roots, and to grow and thrive in this world. God intended it to be this way. He breathed this yearning into our very beings. Humans crave these things deep within, and on some level spend vast amounts of our lives searching for penetrating, trustworthy, resonating truth.
A person of understanding and discernment, one who pursues wisdom and truth, and who faithfully speaks from a sincere heart are earmarks of God’s generous gift of friendship. These are the friendships that serve as protective barriers and instructive guideposts along Life’s winding road, so that none of us are left to our own devices (and shall I add “advices”). This is a “sweetness” I understand; a “sweetness” that I can cling to and find true nourishment for my soul - without even wincing.
Whether or not you have a friend like this, or a community to #hash it out and chit-chat about all the things, we are glad you have joined us. This is what The Fronchard is all about – a place to meet and grow. Just a bit of space to do some of Life’s messy work: to reach down deep to the roots of the things that make us who we are so that we can thrive and flourish wherever and in whatever God brings our way – individually and collectively.
Thank you for sharing this space with us.