Have you ever just plotted to do something you knew was wrong? You know what I mean - rehearsing what you will say, how you will respond, or what you will do when someone does or says something you don't like. Those are the moments in life I'd like to say I am less "proud" of than some of the others, but if we were to be honest I think we might all have done (or still do this) on occasion. We feel like some "right" is violated by another - either by their action, inaction, or what they say or how they say it. Relationships are tough business and it is hard to remain committed to the idea of being entirely genuine within them - because it means you and I will be putting ourselves out there in a rather vulnerable manner. To do this is kind of scary. Maybe this is why so many relationships in our world today are nothing more than superficial and why we have a definition for "acquaintance" in our dictionary! We don't feel comfortable being real, much less do we feel comfortable staying real when we do or say something embarrassing!
It’s a mistake to make evil plans, but you will have loyal friends if you want to do right. (Proverbs 14:22 CEV)
If we consider our passage in light of the other relationship advice Solomon provides in the Book of Proverbs (also referred to as the Book of Wisdom), we kind of see this pattern of being "relationally real". In times past, people had no social media to keep them "in touch" with the happenings in the lives of those they knew, much less connected to people half-way around the world who they have never met, but who share fun quips or play online games with them. In fact, they had daily encounters with live human beings - making it a whole lot harder to escape their "up front and personal" scrutiny of the other person's life! Being there "in the flesh" has a much more "personal" focus and can often make it harder for one to "cover up" or "mask" their true emotions. When we have been active in "plotting" or "making evil plans", it shows!
Likewise, when we are truly working to become comfortable with being "our real selves" (both when we are up-front-and-personal and "behind the scenes" in our lives), we find ourselves entering into relationship "territory" which we seldom get into otherwise. Maybe this is the importance of being genuine - we get into areas we wouldn't have had access to before in another's life. In turn, they have access into areas of our lives which we'd not have given them admittance to without this type of transparency. To truly have this kind of friendship with another is a rarity these days - because we allow ourselves to be one way behind the scenes, but portray another image of ourselves to the "public view" through the filters of social media and the like.
To do right in relationship, one must be committed to this idea of genuineness. There can be no growth if we are superficial and unwilling to be genuine about what it is we struggle with, what keeps us from moving on in life, and the like. We need each other's encouragement to overcome some of these things as much as they need ours. It is much easier to plot how we will act or respond when someone does something we don't like or which will hurt us. It is quite another to "plot" to do good in the face of evil, to respond lovingly when another just isn't very loving, and to refrain from pulling into one's shell when the threat of being exposed gets a little too uncomfortable! If we are to grow in Christ, and in relationship with each other, we need this kind of "good plotting" to occur!
I don't have many people who are genuine with me in life. Some relationships I have remain superficial no matter how much I have worked on them. The other person is just not willing to let their guard down. It isn't because they cannot trust me, but they won't trust me. There is something holding them back from being genuine with me. It might take me a long time to model genuineness in my own life in the face of the other guy putting up all kinds of facades, but if I continue long enough, they will either learn there is no "evil intent" in my actions, or they will walk away. I pray it isn't the latter, but it is a matter of choice for us to remain genuine in the face of the facade around us. In time, we don't know what someone will see in us which brightens their day, gives hope where despair has been lingering, or just encourage them to take one more step forward. Just sayin!