I’ve got one verse. That’s it — just one verse. It’s a popular verse, and usually misquoted when I hear it. This is the verse that began my soapbox with biblical integrity and accuracy. It’s the verse that presses play on Pastor Rod Parsley’s voice in my head from years ago, “You can’t just read the bible. You have to read the bible.” In other words, we must dig a little deeper for meaning in some cases. It’s God’s glory to conceal a matter; it’s our honor as kings to search the matter out…completely (See Proverbs 25:2).
Buckle up dear ones, it may not be pretty…and it won’t be short. Forgive me in advance; this is a verse I pondered for YEARS. And I’ve got years worth of sermons, teachings, books, conversations and experiences all pooled into this post. I’d be honored if the Lord opened a door to teach this principle. It’s powerful… a real engrafted word that can deliver our souls. Be open to the various applications for this verse. Okay? So, you have my disclaimer. Now we may go ahead together.
We refuse to believe our limits exist until they challenge us. Why we do this varies; for as many of us that read this post, there appear about as many reasons for why we believe we, in our human form, are limitless. But it’s just not true. We are temporary in flesh. We lack in flesh. In other words, we each reach a point of capacity.
What is capacity? (Merriam-Webster Online)
- : the ability to hold or contain people or things
- : the largest amount or number that can be held or contained
- : the ability to do something : a mental, emotional, or physical ability
Pause right here and consider the constant struggle in relationship with God and others. Maybe like me, you know people who try to argue their capacity is greater than it really is. But when we max out, we cannot argue. Our lives show it — in word, in deed, in thought and perception. The good news is we own our capacity. Get that. No one deserves blame for our maxed out capacity. If we want new additions to our lives, then we make room.
Problems arise when we think nothing must change to accommodate the new, but something has to shift for the new thing to have its proper place. We abuse the new when we accept it, make room for it, then ignore it. Soon enough, it’s choked by our capacity and either stays around “fighting” for its rights or it slips away unnoticed until we finally come to grips with our poor priorities.
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (KJV)
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. (NLT)
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (NIV)
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (ESV)
A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (NASB)
There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (RSV)
He that maketh many friends doeth it to his own destruction; But there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (ASV)
A person who has friends may be harmed by them, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (NET)
The man of many friends [a friend of all the world] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Amplified)
Wow, right?! Let’s first discover that this verse presents a CONTRAST in volume, that our need for community is met by less instead of more. Harm comes to the one who has many friends, BUT THERE IS A FRIEND who knows how to stick and stay even beyond the family connection of blood.
In the last year, several people stopped by me to express interest in relationship — new acquaintances with potential for friendship, ministry service and relationship. Soon after, I see Proverbs 18:24 remains truth. There are people who may want to be with me, but they lack capacity. When I see this, I bring it up gingerly and offer them an out. Do not bind yourself to me when I plainly see you cannot do it. I offer an out because if they find they want to stay, then they make themselves accountable to their lack… as I see it and get repeatedly cheated by it.
For some, I pray diligently because I know we could be great! I believe in partnership and co-operation and I know we could produce amazing things for God — not in platform or stage ministry, but simply as a model of healthy kingdom living. But people who make themselves a friend to many… they live in a kind of denial.
“There IS room for you in my life.”
“You are priority. This relationship IS priority.”
Then, after they tire of being held accountable, we hear a different thing.
“You’ve got to understand, I’ve got to do (this and that)…”
“I had to go get… go do this for… go show my face…”
They refuse to admit they are at capacity and that the ties to what they think they need with you (don’t miss that!) are too strong. They have neither strength nor ability to cut them off. So you suffer as a result. You come to the only possible conclusions —
They mean well, but being with you is simply beyond their ability/capacity.
Their intent is sincere, but they underestimated your value-add to their lives. With you they need less of others.
You were a novelty… and they loved what they saw and heard, but desired no depth for longevity.
Do not be deceived, beloved. What you see is what you see (thank you Apostle Bertha Brown!). You now have to ask the Father what to do about what you see. Is it worth another “useless” conversation with someone who has 100 people to call when you only want to call them? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. We must decide. For some of us, silent retreat will be our option. Don’t mistake this question — “when you only want to call them” — for desperation. People who manage their capacity keep reserve for relationships with great potential. They have energy and attention on reserve to invest in others.
Capacity then, is a principle. It is valuable, something we own and for which we must be accountable.
If you realize you mishandled someone valuable because you lacked capacity, then pray for an open door to at least acknowledge your denial and ignorance. God gives grace to the humble.
If you realize you find yourself in a struggle now with your capacity and someone you want in your life, then seriously assess which ties must go. And cut them. Heal first, and then make room for this new person who can stick closer than a brother.
You cannot have it both ways.
Finally, if you now see you’ve been mishandled, ignored and just a casualty in general of another’s maxed out capacity… pray for them. Pray for your own heart. Discard disappointment and every false hope they will change for you, or for the potential they say they see as well in the relationship. Commit them to the Lord, and return the sliver of space they gave you. It was a bit too cramped among all their competing interests. Maybe one day (sooner than later, hopefully), Lord permitting, they will see, and what you both agreed could be may have a real chance to develop.
Sometimes our “many friends” choke the will of the Lord. Look and live, Royal Ones. Look at your connections and decide if they do your more harm than good. Consider who is truly “for you” and if they suffer at your hands because you keep a firm grip on what harms you. Then for your own sake, adjust. What you seek in the multitudes may very well be satisfied by ONE. Increase. Your. Capacity.
Selah, and love to all.