Proverbs 17:17: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Merriam Webster’s definition of friendship says that it is: “The state of being friends; the relationship between friends. A friendly feeling or attitude; kindness or help given to someone.”
Throughout my lifetime, I have been privileged with having met a number of wonderful men and women on the job(s) and/or at church through various activities such as choir, ladies Bible studies, home get-togethers, shopping, luncheons, etc. During those times, the Lord has always allowed me to make friends with those who seemed to have the same-like interests and/or uplifting and encouraging positive attitudes. Sadly, over the years of moving from one state to another, I have lost touch with some of them who have made a very profound impression on my life.
But what makes for a good friendship? How do we choose our friends? How do we treat friends? What is the importance of having friends? How do we become a “true” friend?
These are questions that I have asked myself from time to time and have even looked up friendship stories in the Word of God regarding those individuals who were friends during Biblical times and what characteristics drew them to one another.
The first of many friendships is that of Ruth and Naomi:
Ruth 1:16-17 tells us: But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
In this passage, you truly get the impression that Ruth is very loyal, devoted, and a true friend. Although Naomi was her mother-in-law and even after the death of her husband, Ruth was freed from staying with Naomi. However, Ruth had developed such a strong bond with her mother-in-law that she wanted to remain by her side even until death. Because she remained loyal to Naomi, and wanted to follow her God, she later meets Boaz whom she marries and then is able to care for Naomi for the rest of her days.
The second friendship is that of David and Jonathan:
I Samuel 18:1-3 tells us: “After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.”
Did you ever meet someone that you just “clicked” with? You became instant friends and nothing could separate you from one another. Such was the friendship between David and Jonathan.
But how do we choose our friends? The scripture gives us guidelines in how to choose our friends beginning with Proverbs 13:20 which says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise; but a companion of fools suffers harm.” In Proverbs 22:24-15, it says, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man/woman, do not associate with one easily angered, for you may learns his ways and get yourself ensnared.” I Corinthians 15:33 further tells us that: “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.'” According to these scriptures, we are to choose friends who are wise and are not corrupt.
How are we supposed to treat our friends? Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Luke 6:31 says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” And in Colossians 3:12-14, it says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgives you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” These words are God’s instructions on how we are to treat one another, especially our friends.
How important is it to have friends? The Book of Proverbs gives us several answers to the importance of having friends. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise.” Proverbs 24:5 says, “A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength.” Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We can truly learn from friends who are filled with wisdom.
What is a true friend? A true friend…
Accepts you as you are.
Acknowledges how important you are in their life.
Affirms who you are.
Assures you that they understand you.
John 15:12-15 reiterates God’s command to love one another. “My command is this: Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” Here is Christ’s example in that He imparted what He learned from His Father to His disciples; that they are to love one another. We are to do the same with our friends and show compassion to those in need.
In James 4:7-10, we find that God is our greatest friend. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” We need to humble ourselves and seek His wisdom and He will lift us up.
May the Lord bless you and surround you with friends that encourage your walk with the Lord.