I look on Facebook & see that I have 300+ friends. However, I know that I have not one true friend. I see the friendships my husband has with others & realize I have no one like that. It seems every time I am faced with a new friendship, I am betrayed or hurt to the point that I want to just shut everyone out & be alone. Then I am left asking myself, is it me???? So, as always, I turn to the Bible to see what information it has to offer in this area.
“What does the Bible say about friends?”
Human beings were created to be social creatures, meaning that we are most comfortable when we have family, friends, and acquaintances. Friendship is an important element in a fulfilled, contented life, and those who have close friends, whether one or two or a multitude, will usually be happy and well-adjusted. At the same time, those who call themselves our friends may cause us grief and hardship, constantly disappointing us. So what exactly is a friend and what does the Bible have to say about friends?
On the positive side, friends can console and help us when we are in trouble, as when Barzillai consoled David when he was being hunted by Saul (2 Samuel 19:31-30) or when Jephthah’s daughter’s friends consoled her before her death (Judges 11:37-38). A friend may also rebuke in love, proving more faithful than a hypocritical flatterer (Proverbs 27:6). One of the greatest biblical examples of friendship is David and Jonathan, son of King Saul. Jonathan’s loyalty to his friend, David, exceeded that to his own father or his own ambitions (1 Samuel 18:1-4, 20:14-17). So attached was David to his loyal friend that after Jonathan’s death, he wrote a song to him, a tribute filled with heart-wrenching words (2 Samuel 1:30-32). Theirs was a friendship closer than brotherhood. In the New Testament, many of Paul’s letters begin and end with tributes to his friends, those who ministered to him, supported him, prayed for him, and loved him.
Friendship can have its negative aspects as well. Supposed friends can lead us into sin, as when Jonadab persuades Amnon to rape his half-sister, Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-6). A friend can lead us astray in regard to our faith, as they sometimes did in Israel, leading others to worship false gods (Deuteronomy 13:6-11). In those days, such an act was punishable by death. Even if our friends do not lead us astray, they can provide false comfort and bad advice, as Job’s friends did, making his suffering worse and displeasing the Lord (Job 2:11-13, 6:14-27, 42:7-9). Friends can also prove false, pretending affection for their own motives and deserting us when our friendship no longer benefits them (Psalm 55:12-14; Proverbs 19:4, 6-7). Friendship can be broken down through gossip (Proverbs 16:28) or grudges (Proverbs 17:9). Friends should be chosen very carefully because, as Paul told the Corinthians, “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Proverbs 1:10-19 and 4:14-19 contains warnings about friends and how we should choose them. We are not to associate with those who entice us to do wrong, no matter how appealing their “friendship” seems to be. Those whose “feet rush to sin” should be avoided. The path they choose is no place for a Christian whose choice should be to follow the “path of the righteous.” Only that path leads to friendship with God, which is the ultimate goal of a Christian.
“What is true friendship according to the Bible?”
The Lord Jesus Christ gave us the definition of a true friend: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:13-15). Jesus is the pure example of a true friend, for He laid down His life for His “friends.” What is more, anyone may become His friend by trusting in Him as his personal savior, being born again and receiving new life in Him.
There is an example of true friendship between David and Saul’s son Jonathan, who, in spite of his father Saul’s pursuit of David and attempts to kill him, stood by his friend. You will find that story in 1 Samuel chapter 18 through chapter 20. Some pertinent passages are 1 Samuel 18:1-4; 19: 4-7; 20:11-17, 41-42.
Proverbs is another good source of wisdom regarding friends. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). The issue here is that in order have a friend, one must be a friend. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6). “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
The principle of friendship is also found in Amos. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3 KJV). Friends are of like mind. The truth that comes from all of this is a friendship is a relationship that is entered into by individuals, and it is only as good or as close as those individuals choose to make it. Someone has said that if you can count your true friends on the fingers of one hand, you are blessed. A friend is one whom you can be yourself with and never fear that he or she will judge you. A friend is someone that you can confide in with complete trust. A friend is someone you respect and that respects you, not based upon worthiness but based upon a likeness of mind.
Finally, the real definition of a true friend comes from the Apostle Paul: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8). “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13). Now, that is true friendship!
I had a true friend once. Things became so difficult because of hurt caused by a family member of her’s, that I had to walk away. The hurt was so overwhelming for a long time; I just never let anyone be that close to me. My friendship with Jesus became most precious to me. As I found myself in a church family, I began giving friendship another try. Only to realize that in church, some Christians are superficial & some are genuine. After walking away from the church that I called home for seven years, I realized that no one is as genuine as my Jesus. He has never hurt nor abandoned me. He remains true to me no matter what the circumstances are.
I have learned that my husband is my best friend. He is the one that I will walk through this life with and make many cherished memories with. I am thankful that God sent him to me. No one should walk through life alone.
My two older girls each have someone to call a best friend. I watch them as they play with them. There is such a pure and sweet innocents about their friendship. I know that my own lack of a friend will not affect their ability to be a friend.
Someday God may choose a friend for me, one that I will be able to cherish. Until then, I will be a faithful friend to others & cherish my friendship with Jesus, my husband, and children. When all has been said and done, the truth remains my destiny. That truth is to love others as Christ loved me.