From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 6 – A closer look at the various types of people with whom we must be faithful
One of the main things we can do to show ourselves faithful to friends is to avoid gossip. Learn to control your tongue. If you are told a secret, then tell nobody. That will eventually transform the way people see you. People who can be fully relied on to keep a confidence are very rare. Aim to become such a person, so that others can trust you completely and confide in you, knowing that you will never reveal a word of what they say.
13 A gossip betrays a confidence,Proverbs 11:13 (NIV)
but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
The norm however, is to betray other people’s confidences and to pass information on to others. We usually do it because we wish to be significant and to be considered to have inside knowledge. Resolve now to build a reputation, for the long term, as one who can be trusted with confidential information. Furthermore, seek to be the kind of friend who tells the truth, gives honest advice, and never engages in flattery:
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend;Proverbs 27:6 (RSV)
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Far too many people are false friends. They say things that they do not really mean. They appear supportive to a person’s face but are disloyal to them, and critical of them, behind their backs. Resolve to do the opposite. Tell the truth to your friends’ faces, but defend them behind their backs. If so, you will be one of a very small minority. People will eventually notice that and they will seek you out, especially in times of adversity:
17A friend loves at all times,Proverbs 17:17 (NASB)
And a brother is born for adversity.
There are friends who pretend to be friends,Proverbs 18:24 (RSV)
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.