“Some friends don’t help, but a true friend is closer than your own family.” Proverbs 18:24 Contemporary English Version
How many friends can you count on when you find yourself in a struggle of some sort? Can anyone count on you? Being that kind of TRUE friend is an art, a skill learned and perfected over time. Friendship can fulfill the desire to know and be known.
With Valentine’s Day almost upon us, let’s take a closer look at what a TRUE friend is because whether we are single or married, we all have friends. Honing our skills of friendship will enhance all our relationships.
The famous Greek philosopher and scientist, Aristotle, classifies friendships into 3 categories;
FRIENDSHIPS OF UTILITY—people are on friendly terms mainly due to benefits each brings to the table such as business partners, colleagues, schoolmates, etc.
FRIENDSHIPS OF PLEASURE—people find each other through common interests they enjoy such as hobbies, sports, civic activities, church, etc.
FRIENDSHIPS OF THE GOOD—are based on respect, appreciation for each others qualities and a strong will to aid and assist the other person because one recognizes their value.
The first two types change with circumstances and usually do not last as long as the third category. According to Aristotle, friendships of the good are hard to find and develop. If you happen to have more than one of these friends based on goodness, you are fortunate indeed.
To me this third type is a TRUE friend, the kind I want to be and have. The others are acquaintances on various levels and also needed in our lives but not to the deep extent of the third type.
A TRUE friend loves at all times according to Proverbs 17:17. What does that mean? I believe it follows the same principles of I Corinthians 13.
A TRUE friend is patient when we let them down because we are not perfect.
A TRUE friend is kind because we live in a cruel world.
A TRUE friend is not jealous but happy for our triumphs.
A TRUE friend does not demand their own way, they take turns with us.
A TRUE friend does not keep record of our wrongs but gives us grace, thank God.
A TRUE friend never gives up on us, even when we may deserve it.
A TRUE friendship involves time, effort and care. It doesn’t just happen. As in any deep relationship, it requires commitment and attention resulting in each of us realistically having only a few of these TRUE friendships.
We all need to have at least one of these blessed friendships. It is a tremendous gift to treasure. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
If you haven’t yet found such a friendship you would do well to look in the mirror and examine whether or not you are TRUE friend material. If you find yourself lacking, ask God to help you develop the character traits necessary to be a TRUE friend. He will help you.
For myself I know it’s an ongoing learning process to be a TRUE friend. It involves self denial and oh how painful that can be. Sometimes I drop the friendship ball and hurt one of my dear friends. I have to run to Jesus for forgiveness, strength and wisdom to know how to heal wounds I’ve caused. I have to fight against justifiying what I’ve done in order to save the friendship.
Thank God, literally, for TRUE friends who forgive me and love me even when I’m selfish and annoying, because we all are at times. But TRUE friends love us annoying warts and all. TRUE friends accept us even in our limitations.
“Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 New Living Translation
TRUE friends speak the truth in love to us even when it’s hard to hear. This is one of the hardest parts of being a TRUE friend. Finding the balance to lovingly steer a friend away from harm when they insist on running headlong into it is tough stuff. And if we on the hearing end, choose to turn a deaf ear to their loving warnings, TRUE friends wait for us to come to our senses and pray for us in the meantime. TRUE friends help us pick up the pieces when our lives shatter from our own poor choices.
How about you? Are you concerned with being a TRUE friend? Do you take from your friends without considering their needs? Are you only available to your friends when their lives are going well? Do you listen to their heart as well as their words? Do you spend time together regularly ? If distance is a factor, make it a point to call or FaceTime/Skype (Texting is ok but should not be the only form of communication)
Jesus was willing to lay down His life for His friends. What are we willing to do for ours? Surely we can be loyal, honest and remain in communication. Reach out and touch your friends during this month of Love. Don’t take them for granted. Don’t be silent in their lives.
“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Don’t be a silent friend … have a voice in their lives by staying close to the end.
Shine on. . .