“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” – Proverbs 27:17.
Michael felt like he didn’t belong and wanted a best friend in the worst way. There were the cool kids and the not-so-cool kids, Michael did not fit into either group. Michael, like many others growing up, struggled with not fitting in. He needs a friend, one good friend.
Fast forward to today. Michael has lots of friends. Some are iffy friends, some are somewhat dependable friends and two or three are the kind of friends you would go to war with. When the iffy friends abandon Michael it does not bother him as much as it used to. When the occasionally dependable friends no longer see him fitting in, it doesn’t matter to Michael. He has become less tied to the need to fit in because of his relationship with Jesus Christ. Michael has come to understand who he is in Christ and has stopped looking for others to validate his existence. It has freed him to appreciate his true friends and just as importantly freed him to be a true friend to others.
It was Thomas Aquinas a long time ago who said, “There is nothing on earth to be prized than true friendship.” Everyone needs special people to laugh, share secrets, and celebrate life with, but friendships aren’t just about enjoying good times together. It’s easy to be friends when life is easy, but a real friend never allows someone they care about to go through difficulties alone. Whatever hardships the world has in store, true friends stick together and get through them together.
It takes time to cultivate real friendships. But it is time well spent because everyone needs connections. “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10). It is important we make time to both find good friends and be a good friend.
Jesus was with His closest group of friends, the twelve disciples. It was their last meal together, their last supper. During the past three years, Jesus and His disciples had become very good friends, walking together, talking together, fishing together, sailing together, and hanging out together. Jesus was not only their Lord and King but also their friend. During this last meal together Jesus spoke these words to His friends:
“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me” (John 15:12-15).
Maybe if you are old enough you remember the old hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus.” Jesus is our greatest friend. Hopefully, we can learn from Him and be a good friend to others in our lives.
- A true, core friend offers you support, confidence, and hope. Share a time when a friend encouraged you. How did their encouragement make you feel?
- What character qualities hinder good friendships? What character qualities encourage good friendships?