Anybody who’s played the game had a coach and/or teammate at some point who helped them “unlock” something about themselves on or off the field, or both. In those cases, odds are that person became a close friend of the one they helped, regardless of age difference. I experienced that with both my high school and college coaches, and with several of the guys I played and coached with. It was as if they knew me so well that they knew exactly what would help me in a particular situation, whether mechanically with my swing or just in life and the curveballs it throws.

We all need friends like that.

Proverbs 27:9 talks about that. “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.”

Oil and perfume, during the time of this Proverb’s writing, were items of great significance. Oil was used to treat and soothe wounds and perfume was used to give a sweet aroma to people and spaces that might otherwise be left unclean. As a result, each was highly valuable and helpful. Each was a change agent, used to counteract something that was wrong and undesirable.

Friends are like that, the Scripture says here. Their counsel, guidance, advice, or encouragement does for our souls and attitudes what oil and perfume did for the body back then.

From experience with players and coaches, I’ve learned that few have friends like that. Many of us in the game are on our own, to be honest, just making life up as we go.

How do we find friends like the one described in Proverbs 27?

Start looking for people who…

Know Jesus. While I value the opinions of many people, there are none that I trust completely unless the opinion and counsel emanates from a deep relationship with Jesus. Only then can a person have the heart of God, free from subjectivity and free to speak into my life what I really need.

Know God’s word. How can there be any depth to their counsel if they don’t know the depths of God’s wisdom? That would be like the blind leading the blind. I need people who know the meaning, implications, and applications of God’s word because they have interacted with it for a long time.

Know you. While the Scripture is applicable to anyone anywhere, I need friends who know me and therefore know how to present the Scripture to me in a way I’ll receive it. If they don’t know me, and yet want to throw the Bible at me, do they really care?

You might find yourself without the counsel of a good friend right now. Start praying today that God would provide one.

Lord Jesus, thank you for being the friend who will never leave me. I pray that you’d provide me someone with whom I can walk through life and be guided, strengthened, and encouraged for greater faithfulness to you. Amen.