There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity. (Rambler)
There is little friendship in the world. (Bacon)
The first law of friendship is sincerity. (Anon)
If I were to ask you what is your definition of a friend or friendship what would you say? Would it relate to this definition found in Noah Webster’s dictionary of 1828?
1: A familiar knowledge; a state of being acquainted, or of having intimate or more than slight or superficial knowledge. Sometimes it denotes a more slight knowledge.
2: A person or persons well known; usually person we have been accustomed to see and converse with; sometimes persons more slightly known.
1: One who keeps company with another; one with whom a person frequently associates, and converses.
2: One who accompanies another; as two persons meeting casually and traveling together are called companions. So soldiers are called companions in arms.
Are you thinking right now as you read that: Yes, that sounds right and maybe a list of names is coming to mind. But what does the bible say about friends?
A friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity. (Prov. 17:17 NIV)
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Prov. 18:24 NIV)
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Prov. 27:6 NKJV)
If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man how falls and has no one to help him up! (Eccl. 4: 10 NIV)
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:12, 13 NKJV)
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10 NIV)
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; . . . Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. (Romans 12:9-13 The Message)
Wherefore exhort one another, and edify one another . . . (1 Thess. 5:11 The 1599 Geneva Bible)
Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out. (1 Thess. 5:15 The Message)
Does this open your eyes some and your heart. Do some of the people who were coming to mind earlier as friends still fit with these verses, do any of them? Is there anything in these verses you cannot see them doing for you or that you cannot see yourself doing for them? What kind of a friend are you? There is a vast difference between knowing someone well and being a true friend. The greatest evidence of genuine friendship is loyalty – being available to help in times of distress or personal struggles. Too many people are fair-weather friends. They stick around when the friendship helps them and leave when they are not getting anything out of the relationship. Think of your friends and access your loyalty to them. The definitions I gave are not the definition of a friend but an acquaintance or a companion. A companion “does not necessarily imply friendship”. So what does Noah Webster’s dictionary say about a friend or friendship?
: One who is attached to another by affection; one who entertains for another sentiments of esteem, respect and affection, which lead him to desire his company, and to seek to promote his happiness and prosperity.
: An attachment to a person, proceeding from intimate acquaintance, and a reciprocation of kind offices, or from a favorable opinion of the amiable and respectable qualities of his mind. Friendship differs from benevolence, which is good will to mankind in general, and from that love which springs from animal appetite. True friendship is a noble and virtuous attachment, springing from a pure source, and respect for worth or amiable qualities. False friendship may subsist between bad men, as between thieves and pirates. This is a temporary attachment springing from interest, and may change in a moment to enmity and rancor. (Underline is mine)
How many of us, even as Christians, truly have friends? How many of us, even as Christians, think it is more appropriate to tell someone what you think they want to hear instead of “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15), and how many of us will see that truth as coming from a friend? How many of us, even as Christians, would truly lay are life down for our friends? How many of us are so unfamiliar with this concept that when God fills your heart with that kind of a friendship the person God put in your heart won’t accept it, or maybe you can’t even accept it? How many of us, as I’ve asked these questions only thought of those of the same gender? How many of us can honestly say they have true friends of the opposite genders?
Who is the first person Jesus’ talks to after His resurrection? When Mary Magdalene first saw the open tomb she ran and got Peter and John but it wasn’t until after they left that He first appears to Mary:
“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (John 20: 15. 16 NIV)
Why does Jesus first talk with a woman? According to John Eldredge in “The Utter Relief of Holiness” “Jesus’ ability to have intimate relationships with single women – that is really striking. His capacity to engage the opposite sex with absolute integrity and utter fearlessness in incredible. There is a good deal of fear and awkwardness between men and women who are not married to each other. Especially in the Church. But Jesus is showing up it needn’t even be an issue. Wow!”
We all need friends who will stick close, listen, care, and offer help when it is needed – in good times and bad. It is better to have one friend than dozens of superficial acquaintances. When God initiates a friendship take on the challenge of being a true friend. Lets end this with a prayer from Sparkling Gems by Rick Renner.
“Lord, I thank You for the incredible friendships You have placed in my life. I am immeasurably blessed to have such loving, faithful, and true relationships. When I think of all the people who live such lonely lives; it makes me want to stop and express my gratefulness to You for placing such precious people in my life. Lord, I also ask You to please help me see those who need to be loved so I can include them as a part of my life. I want to give to others the love and support that I have received. Holy Spirit, help me to start doing this today. I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that God has given me a host of godly relationships. I am blessed with genuine friends, who love me like family; who treat me like a brother or sister; and who will walk in covenant with me for many years to come. This is God’s will for my life. I will not be isolated or live in a way that is disconnected from God’s family; rather, I will continually look for ways to grow closer and closer to His family. Also, just as God is blessing me with precious friends, I believe He is teaching me how to be a better friend to those who are near me. I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!” (Sparkling Gems from the Greek by Rick Renner)