One with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.
Friends are friends forever, if the Lord is Lord of them.
-Michael W. Smith
After the final exam, my teacher asked me to tell him about what special gift that God had given me. And I said, \”to be a best friend.\” I\’ve had many best friends in my life.
Friendships or rather best friendships have been near and dear to my heart.
We have friends and best friends. Jesus called Judas friend, but John was his best friend. Apostle Paul had a conflict with his best friend, Barnabas. David was best friends with Jonathan.
I believe God wants us to have friends, and is looking for friends for his children who are friendless, who are lonely, or who have unattractive personality characteristics.
You can\’t be best friends with everybody, but you can be everybody\’s friend. And whether it is in a \’best friendship\’, or, \’everybody\’s friend\’ lifestyle, friendship is fraught with the danger of being hurt or betrayed.
To be a true friend means you are signing up to have your heart broken.
To be a close friend is to be vulnerable.
To be a friend is certainly to love and to be kind and to give of your time.
There is friendship with people and there is also friendship with God.
Like Abraham, I want to be a friend of God (James 2:23).
The opposite of friendship is isolation.
Friendship with God is open to believers, but we have to desire it and pursue it.
We pursue friendship with people as well. Friendship is born, grows, and thrives through mutuality and reciprocity. Both people have to nurture a friendship.
To be a friend is a choice. We offer friendship and it might not be reciprocated. There is a dance where we meet someone and they meet us. We call upon someone and they answer. We request time with them, and they give it or do not give it.
And we can pursue friendship with someone who does not pursue it with us, but after a few steps, they reciprocate and a friendship begins. Some friendships end as quickly as they began and a few may go on thru a lifetime.
Friendships end for many reasons, some are negative and some are benign. It is very common to out grow friendships. What it was based on has passed at least for one, and if there isn\’t something new to base it on, the friendship may die for lack of a reason for it\’s existence.
A friendship that has become estranged can become rekindled if both people choose to or see a reason to do so. Reconciliation should always be a possibility, but when you are reconciled, that does not mean the friendship will be back to where the falling out took place, because in the meantime, both of you have changed and grown up. This \’2.0\’ friendship will be different.
It is normal for one person\’s expectations of a friendship to be lower than the other\’s. And this is part of being a true friend, always allowing your friend the freedom to modulate the friendship from their side. Again, this is the dance of invitation and participation, based on mutuality.
I want to fulfill the calling to be a friend. I have been blessed to be a friend, yet have not been the best friend I could have been. I want to be a better friend, make new friends, and reconcile with estranged friends.
With all that as the back-drop, I decided to open up Derek Kidner\’s Proverbs commentary
, and glean some wisdom. Many years ago, a best friend of mine was reading Kidner\’s book and highly recommend it and I\’m so glad I have it.
Kidner\’s book is a verse by verse commentary, also with topical overview sections, three pages of which are devoted to friendship.
The book of Proverbs has a lot of verses that deal with friendship. I am not going to go through them all, but want to say to read and study these on your own, to find out how God sees friendships and to gain wisdom for your life.
Thirdly, I will shares notes from a best-selling book I read in college, by Christian Psychologist, Alan Loy McGinnis, called The Friendship Factor
These are my notes, with my added thoughts.
Notes from Kidner:
THE FRIEND (pp. 44-46)
Kidner notes that, friend and neighbor is synonymous in the Bible. And there is a range of meaning from \’fellow society member\’ or \’acquaintance\’, to \’best friend\’.
A good neighbor is disarmingly kind.
The one who despises his neighbor sins,
but whoever shows kindness to the poor will be happy.
A good neighbor is silent rather than critical.
Whoever shows contempt for his neighbor lacks sense,
but a person with understanding keeps silent.
A good neighbor offers help rather than contempt.
But a good neighbors\’ kindness is rooted in God\’s love, not sentimentality.
A good friend
A good friend is constant. They stick to you, they are joined to you.
A good friend has candor. They are willing to wound you with their honesty.
A good friend is your trusted counselor. They will broth reassure you and challenge you.
A good friend is tactful.
They respect you and don\’t take advantage of you.
They don\’t overstay their welcome.
They don\’t force their friendship on you
They regulate themselves in sensitivity towards you
They don\’t do hurtful joking at your expense.
The strongest term for friend is bosom buddy.
The closer your friend is to you, the more hurtful is the betrayal by them. (vulnerability)
Estrangement is when you become as a stranger to someone you were once close to.
Gossip separates close friends.
Dwelling on a fault ruins a friendship.
These teach us that close friendships need to be guarded and cherished.
\”It emerges that the qualities of the peacemaker required in a good neighbor are by no means superseded by the ties of affection. The integrity of a friendship depends as much on spiritual resources as does that of an individual.\”
Those who make bad friends:
- \”The Sinner\” They promise excitement, money, and membership in the crime family.
- \”The Wicked\” Violent in word and deed. Hurting people is their way. Unmerciful.
- \”The Thief\” If you are the thief\’s friend, you are automatically an accomplice.
- \”The Hothead\” “Short-tempered people” These are people characterized by anger, often angry.
- \”The Glutton and the Drunkard\”
- \”The One Who Lacks of Self-Control\” Addictive personality.
- \”The Gossip\” If they gossip about others, they will gossip about you and ruin friendships. A contrary person spreads conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. Whoever conceals an offense promotes love, but whoever gossips about it separates friends. Prov. 16:28, 17:9
- \”The Fool\” Destructive relationship: \”Fool he ends who fool befriends\” (John Knox, cited by Kidner).
People to avoid friendship with:
- \”Troublemakers\” Froward: Stubbornly contrary and disobedient; obstinate. Perverse, devious, dishonest, evil, bad, wayward, and twisted are words that describe this person to avoid.
- \”Deceivers\” Violent people who entice you into a trap. Deceptive and deceitful. Insincere flatterers.
- \”Guarantors of Surety\” People who cosign loans for people thinking it is friendly rather that just loaning to the poor regarding it as a potential gift with low interest if any.
Traits of an ideal friend:
- Loyalty: \”One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.\”, Proverbs 18:24
- Loving: \”A friend loves at all times\”, Proverbs 17:17a
- Will Confront You: \”The wounds of a friend are trustworthy\”, Proverbs 27:6a
How to sabotage your friendships (not be a friend):
- Seek Revenge
- Break a Confidence
- Withhold Good
- Pursue Frivolous Lawsuits
- Belittle People
- Monopolize Time
- Be Insensitive to Feelings
No man is an island.
Proverbs 18:1 in various translations:
One who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels against all sound wisdom. CSB
Unfriendly people care only about themselves; they lash out at common sense. NLT
One last note.
A sycophant is not a real friend:
The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends. Prov. 14:20 (NIV)
Make your relationships your top priority.
Intentionally decide to not give your opinion in conversations. Saying, \”I just have to be honest with you\”, then giving your opinion when someone shares is foolish and drives people away.
Build nurturing rituals into your family life.
Eating together is one of the best ways to build a friendship.
Help a friend with a task and collect memories with them.
Learn the art of gift giving.
Learn the ripple effect of kindness.
Learn that the test of a great person is the way they treat people in lower stations or positions.
Create space in your friendships.
Friends build people up, make people feel better about themselves.
Friends are cautious with criticism.
Friends encourage rather than nag, and know the difference.
Friends do not judge people prematurely.
Friends learn the language of acceptance.
Friends listen non-judgmentally: \”Interesting\”, \”Tell me more\”, \”Sounds important to you\”.
Friends encourage uniqueness rather than conformity.
A true friend loves what their friend is working on (hobbies, projects, goals).
A friend sees the positive in people and comments on them.
A good friend practices appreciation of others.
A good friend is a listener who is truly interested in hearing.
Friendships are not about problem solving, but understanding.
I want to give credit and note that reading the blog post, by Werner Vos, Leading Smart: The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy McGinnis
; helped me write the list of notes above. That book was very helpful to me during the loneliest time of my life. God gave me friends and I continued a life long call to be a friend.