Do you have a true friend? Are you a true friend? The wise sage King Solomon stated in Proverbs 18:24, "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." I am grateful for the blessing of friendship. Correction – I am thankful for the blessing of friends. There is more to this subject than one could ever fathom, but allow me to suggest three characteristics about friendship derived from this timeless proverb.
The Commitment of Friendship.
It takes commitment to be a friend. Notice the word "must." If you have a friend, you must show yourself friendly. I used to think that meant if I wanted friends, I must first be friendly. While that may be a true statement, I do not think that it conveys the commitment of friendship Solomon was trying to communicate. If you have a friend, you must be committed to being a friend in return – when it's convenient, and when it's not. Being a friend is much more than having a good time of fellowship. It begins with a declared promise, "there is a friend." It continues with an enduring patience, "that sticketh." And it concludes with an intimate proximal, "closer than a brother."
The Camaraderie of Friendship.
While fellowship is not all there is to be a friend, it is an important part. Fellowship with dedicated Christians is vital to spiritual health. First, it provides reinforcement. Proverbs 17:17 states, "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Someone once said that a friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out. It provides refresh. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 27: 9, "Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel." Writing to a friend, the Apostle Paul penned these words in Philemon verse 7, "For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother." It also provides refinement. One could also call it, "Tough Love." Proverbs 27: 6 emphasizes this, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend …" And again in Proverbs 27:17 we read, "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."
The Christianity of Friendship.
Jesus Christ is the epitome and essence of a true friend, for the flower of friendship blooms from the seed of Christ's love. Jesus stated in John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." In 1 John 3:16, John expounded on this thought with these words, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down his life for us: and we bought to lay down our lives for the brethren." In those two versions, we see the full meaning of Proverbs 18:24. Laying down our lives is how we show ourselves "friendly." Paul stated it this way in Galatians 5:13, "by love serve one another."
In summary, be a friend; make an eternal difference. If you will be a friend to those who are lowly and lonely, you will be the kind of friend the Lord was and is to you! And do not take your friends for gifted – love them, tell them, encourage them, and pray for them while you have them!