With the invention of social media, various networks create the opportunity for people to connect in all sorts of amazing ways. Friends, family and acquaintances are able to interact in ways that may not be possible due to distance or other restrictions. With many positives, one dangerous thing about this is the way the word “friend” has become cheapened in this process. In a single click somebody you don’t know or barely know becomes your “friend”. This list of “friends” can become huge before you know it. I understand the value and benefits of social networks, but we need to make sure that as Christians we don’t allow important things like friendship to be cheapened, redefined or even hijacked.
It is important to understand that friendship is a precious gift from God that has untold value. To have somebody close to you, somebody loyal to you, somebody supporting you, are great blessings and ought to be valued and enjoyed.
The book of Proverbs is filled with wisdom in dealing with the topic of friendship and other portions of Scripture provide principles and examples of godly friendship. I would like to draw from some of these texts and provide some principles of wisdom concerning friendship and what a true friend looks like.
A TRUE FRIEND HAS CHARACTER
A true friend will be someone marked by good and godly character. The Bible is very clear on the danger and harm that comes when somebody enters into a close friendship with those of ungodly character. Solomon warned against walking in the way of those who do not fear God (Prov. 1:10-19). In providing counsel to choose friends wisely, Solomon said,
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare” (Prov. 22:24-25)
Notice the warning that a friend without godly character (in this case an angry person) will provide a bad influence and a snare to one’s life, which is a valuable warning. Don’t ever forget that “bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33).
A TRUE FRIEND HAS CONCERN
A true friend is a concerned friend. Out of love and loyalty toward you they want what is truly best for you. Unlike the “people-pleasing friend” who doesn’t actually care for you, a concerned friend is always looking out for you. Solomon said, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov. 27:6). A godly friend will speak faithful and true words that at times may hurt, but they come from one who is truly concerned for you Why? It is because they love the Word of God and want what is best for you. The concern, care and counsel coming from a true friend brings sweetness to one’s life. As Solomon also said, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel” (Prov. 27:9).
A TRUE FRIEND HAS COMMITMENT
A true friend has commitment because “a friend loves at all times” (Prov. 17:17). This love is demonstrated by a display of selfless sacrifice and loyalty. An amazing example of this is seen in the friendship between David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 19:1-3; 20:4, 31). One can unwisely choose many friends to surrounded them, but such unwise choices will lead to complications and problems in the future. But for the one who chooses a friend wisely there will be great benefit, thus enjoying a relationship closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24).
Friendship is a precious gift from God that has untold value. This is why we must seek out those individuals who are marked by godly character, concern and commitment. As precious as the gift of friendship is though, one must never forget that great privilege of the child of God being called a friend of Christ (John 15:12-15). We are His friends because He chose us (John 15:16) and saved us from our sins. If you are a believer, know that no matter what may go on around you, no matter how lonely you may ever feel, Jesus calls you His friend. Prize that and honour Him.