Mutual caring for another. Consistent promotion of the other’s flourishing. Sympathy for and action taken on behalf of another. Creating value in rather than recognizing the value of another. Self-disclosure from the safety of suspended judgement. Influence upon another’s outlook. Strengths are met with courage and weaknesses are met with grace. Rejoices in another’s success and embraces the other when failure is experienced. Common values do not merely coincide, but are fostered to enhance the other’s “future” self.
These qualities, among many others, are just some of the features of real friendship. With just a few exceptions (maybe), most of these do not or cannot occur on Facebook or other social media outlets. While I’ve many “friends” on Facebook, only a few do I know face-to-face and have come to cherish the personal interaction that comes from their material presence.
The friends God has given me over the years have shaped and sharpened me in ways that casual acquaintances never could. A true friend is a gift from God. I can honestly say God has used others to impact my spiritual and practical life in countless ways that have been positive.
What follows is a brief survey from Scripture (in no particular order) on friendship. The passages are by no means exhaustive of all that God has said about the topic. Instead, this sampling is intended to promote reflection on your friendships and, hopefully, allow you to appreciate more the gift of friends God has given you.
A friend …
- Provides more than fleeting companionship; true friends are bound together (Proverbs 18:24)
- Prays for you, even when you’ve offered bad counsel (Job 42:8-9)
- Preserves confidentiality and builds trust in the relationship (Proverbs 16:28)
- Sacrifices as much as it takes for the sake of the friendship (John 15:13)
- Endures over time, especially when it’s hard to do so (Proverbs 17:17)
- Values the friendship in tangible ways (James 2:23)
- Hurts only when healing is necessary (Proverbs 27:6)
- Does not have divided loyalties (James 4:4)
- Weeps over loss (John 11:33-36)
- Speaks directly and openly (Ex 33:11)
- Is intentional about the friendship (1 Sam 20:42)
- Helps pick you up when you fall (Ecclesiastes 4:10)