“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. – Proverbs 18:24 (MSG).
It is sometimes easy to think that God is concerned with doctrinal manners and thus is not all that interested in our friends or what type of friend we are. But nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus Christ died in our place, not only to restore our relationship with God, but also to firm up our relationships with other people. In fact, the Bible has just as much to say about interpersonal relationships as it does about theology and doctrine. The Bible has some timeless wisdom on the subject of friends. The Bible also gives us a blueprint for our responsibilities to others when we choose to be in their corner.
Proverbs 12:26 says, “The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.” The reason we need to be careful is because we often become just like the people we hang around. Proverbs 13:20 reminds us not to necessarily emulate the people we associate with: “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” The apostle Paul picked up on this when he wrote: “Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
So what do we need to do when we are in someone’s corner? First, we need to be loving. Proverbs 17:17 sums up this quality: “A friend loves at all times…” A faithful friend loves at all times, even when we make mistakes. A faithful friend lets you know that you’re a valuable member of God’s team. A friend who loves hangs in there with you even when you feel like all is lost. The second trait is forgiveness. The true test of a friendship is the forgiveness factor. If we spend enough time with somebody we will inevitably hurt them, either intentionally, or unintentionally. A faithful friend is someone who will cut you some slack and forgive you for what you’ve done. Proverbs 17:9: “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.”
Third, a true friend is one who helps you become who God has made you to be. Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Someone once said, “a friend is one who knows you as you are, understands where you’ve been, accepts who you’ve become and all the while helps you to grow.” We all need friends who will sharpen us by giving us advice and counsel: “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” (Proverbs 27:9).
And lastly, a faithful friend is aware of the needs of others. They know when to give space and when to offer grace. Proverbs 25:17: “Don’t visit your neighbors too often, or will wear out your welcome.”
A faithful friend is a real blessing. But such friendships must be cultivated and maintained in order for them to last. If I want to have a good friend, I must work at being a good friend.
- What makes a great friend in your mind?
- How can you be a better friend to your friends?
- What can you do this week to heal wounded friendships?