Be wiser than your former self
We have perhaps one or two truly close friendships in the course of our lifetime, those marked by true intimate knowledge of each other and a depth of commitment which spans all the hurdles of how silly we can act on occasion. These relationships matter so much to us - we work to preserve them, defend them, and even bolster them whenever things are a little shaky. Try hard to do right and you will win friends - scriptural instruction - not scriptural "advice". The difference between the two - one is just an opinion which we can take or leave; the other is a promise based on truth. Some of us don't always "do right", though. In the realm of our "best friends", there is some amount of grace which just keeps us together and might even bind us closer together when we don't always "hit the mark" when it comes to "trying to do right". Do right; Live right; and Act wisely - three truths we need to explore if we are to maintain those very special relationships God has given us on this earth.
Try hard to do right, and you will win friends; go looking for trouble, and you will find it. Live right, and you will eat from the life-giving tree. And if you act wisely, others will follow. (Proverbs 11:27, 30)
Do right - we certainly don't need instruction or reminding to "do wrong"! We find our way into the territory of "wrong" much easier than we find our way into the territory of "right"! We were born pretty egocentric and in being so egocentric from birth, we find the world rotating around us for a good period of time. What parents have a hard time with as we are getting a little older is this idea of helping us to see there are others in our world impacted by our actions! When we won't share, someone is without a toy or piece of the cake. When we refuse to let someone go, they cannot get on with their other tasks which need to be completed. We maintain the "hold" on being the center of our world as long as others will allow it. When someone begins to "push that envelope" and they show us we are definitely NOT the center of attention we think we should be, we get our feelings all in a wad. The world around us needs to be acknowledged, the feelings of others require respect, and the moments of their lives matter as much as ours. We are reminded to let go of "self" and seek out the opportunities to "make another feel special". Doing is the first step toward developing a pattern some call "living".
Live right - unlike "doing" right, living right means we actually find a path which is consistently focused on the right things. We begin to develop patterns of behavior which are marked with less and less self-centered actions. The "doing" becomes a habit - we find ourselves consistently "doing" - not having to "think it through" all the time because it comes more naturally to us now. With every "new habit" there is this starting point we might label as "doing" right. Add up all the "doing" and eventually you find yourself forming the new habit. In time, you don't even think about what it is you are doing because it comes as "second-nature" to you. It is "second-nature" to us, though! Our "primary-nature" is egocentric. It takes practiced effort to break that mold! This effort will eventually help us develop the habits which become "second-nature" to us and produce a consistency of behaviors which support "other-focused" activities. We find we want to include others in our lives - not because of what we "get out of it", but equally as much by what we can "give back" into those relationships. Living right implies we make consistent choices which benefit not only self, but others, as well.
Act wisely - the choices we make behind the scenes matter because eventually they reveal themselves for all to see, no matter how well we think we have them covered up! Action comes from thought - we actually have some basis to all we do and how we live because we have been thinking about it for some time! If our actions are a little foolish, it is likely we are still a little too egocentric in our focus. We don't see others, nor do we see Christ right there in front of us as we make those unwise choices. If our actions are gravitating toward wiser ones, we might not fully understand how much those matter, but each wise action leads to the possibility we will act that way again - leading to us letting go of some of our egocentric "doing". Fools are marked by being all over the board in their commitments and even by being a little too egocentric (despite warnings to be otherwise). The wise are marked by the stability and sensibility of their actions - those which are "other-focused", not "self-focused". Wise people see themselves through the mirror of the truth and what is reflected back to them is used to help them lay down the actions which really are not reflecting back Christ in them! Just sayin!