It’s one of the many words we use in our daily thinking and conversation which we tend to overuse and misuse. We have a general idea of what they mean, and may even know how to apply them correctly in discussions with others. But, for several possible reasons, we don’t always do it. But this isn’t an article about the use of the word, but our understanding of the importance of the concept.
Most of us want friends. Most of us have some...at least a few. The more we learn about what real friendship is, the more we realize just how rare it may be. Having said that, it is also true that people often have more genuine friends than they realize.
Several years ago, I read of a boy who ran away from home. Now, that’s perhaps not an uncommon occurrence, even though many return after a short time. But this one didn’t. His distraught mother looked for him for weeks in city after city, without success. Becoming deathly ill, she was hospitalized. Resigned to the fact she would never see her boy again, she confided in a trusted nurse. “Someday he may even come into this very hospital, and if he does, please promise me you'll tell him his two best friends never gave up on him.”
When the nurse asked for the names of those two friends, the mother responded with trembling lips and eyes filled with tears, ‘Tell him those two friends are God and his mother.”
There are several other concepts that intersect with friendship: love, trust, loyalty, forgiveness, patience, courtesy, honesty, sincerity, sensitivity and gentleness.
Most of these are concepts that should characterize our relationship with everyone. Of course, it’s not always easy to apply them to everyone we meet. This is demonstrated by Jesus’ interaction with some of the Jewish leaders of his time, and even his closest disciples on several occasions.
One of Scripture’s best-known comments about friendship is in Proverbs 17:17: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
A faithful understanding and application of this proverb may cause us to pull up short sometimes in our dealings with others whom we consider friends. It isn’t always easy to truly love others. We need to remember that “love” is more than an emotion. It is primarily involved with our attitudes and actions toward others. Read again Paul’s wonderfully practical description of love in 1 Corinthians 13: But love is that which should be consistently shown toward others, especially those we think of as friends.
The next time you are thinking about, or are involved with, someone you consider a friend, consider carefully what that relationship implies.