Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nibbling Friends: The Fish Effect

Read Proverbs 27:1-10

What would you expect if you entered a nail salon or spa? Well, customers discovered that one salon owner was willing to go to very creative lengths to increase his customer base in a challenging economic environment. The owner of L.A. Nails in Winnipeg has started offering fish treatments for the feet of is customers. Willing customers can now put their feet in a tank filled with water and about 200 minnow sized carp fish called “garra rufa”. According to Carolyn Vesely of the Winnipeg Free Press, these tiny fish “…dig in like teenagers at an all-you-can-eat buffet, gorging on the dead skin on your heels and toes, including the bits on your little ‘piggies’ and the hardened cuticles around your nails.” Once the tickling sensation subsides, the customers apparently feel better not only in their feet but in their whole body. An information sheet given to customers says that these little fish can not only clean away dead tissue on your feet but “…their powerful lips can stimulate acupuncture points and clear blocked pores to promote circulation of blood and energy.”

This story reminds me of the “friend effect.” Like the garra rufa fish, a real friend will not abandon you but will “nibble away “at unwanted ideas, attitudes and destructive habits in your life. He or she will be willing to do this until the “dead skin” in your life is recognized by you and then removed or rejected until you are clean before God. God freely works in and through those who are hungry to be healthy and pure in heart.

Proverbs 27:6 (NIV) begins with these words: “Wounds of a friend can be trusted.” Like the tiny fish, a true friend can be trusted to puncture a hole in your inflated pride or chip away at your selfish attitude. Such a friend does this in a way that will honor God and truly help you in the long term. You also need to be such a friend to others. It’s the fish effect – it will make you uncomfortable at first but prove to be so beneficial in the long term.

How can you be such a friend to someone in our church or in your neighborhood? Be sure that you are prepared to act God’s way:

Ø Be faithful – as a friend who “…sticks closer than a brother” (Prov.18:24) and “…loves at all times” (Prov.17:17).

Ø Be Honest – as a friend who encourages him or her in seeing and accepting what needs to change (Prov.27:6).

Ø Be Tactful – as a friend who is sensitive to the feelings and needs of the others, such as Jonathan who “…helped David find strength in God” (1 Samuel 23:16).

Ø Be Motivating – seek to challenge the other person so that they will grow in Christ “…as iron sharpens iron, so one (friend) sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17)

Are you willing to be such a friend? Do you have such a friend? It starts with you willing to first be such a friend to another. Then, God will bring such a friend for you.

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