The book of Proverbs has much to say on friendship. True friends are rare and limited. It is estimated that most people have between 500-2500 acquaintances, about 10-20 core friends that they see somewhat regularly, but only 1-7 intimate friends. Most times, you can count them on one hand!
The Basis of Friendship
At creation, God made everything and said, “It is good.” The only thing that was not good was loneliness. “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone…’” (Gen. 2:18). In every stage of life, you make friends almost instantly. In childhood, toddlers play together in the nursery. Teens want to belong and be accepted. Adults forge friendship with other adults in the same season of life. Senior adults still enjoy social interaction even when their health is declining and many of their friends are dying. Friendship has so much to do with season of life. When seasons change and you no longer see close friends very often, they are not failed friendships! This is something that is natural and normal. God gives you those friendships to make it through that season of life. You need them to make it through that period of time. Due to graduation, a marriage, a job change, a move, etc., you may leave behind friends. Years later though, you can thank God for the joy they brought you on the journey.
The Building of Friendship
Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully….” You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. Show me your friends and I will show you your future! Proverbs has much to say about building the right kind of friendships. We are warned against being friends with an angry man (22:24) and are told that wealth brings friends so we know to be cautious with fake friendships (14:20, 19:4,6). We are also warned against friends you can’t depend on (25:19) and against friends who gossip (16:28, 17:9). When it comes to being a good friend, we are encouraged to be friendly ourselves (18:24), to be sensitive to others (27:14), and not to overstay our welcome (25:17).
Making friends is one thing. Maintaining friendships is another. Les and Leslie Parrott, in their book on Relationships, say that friends to die for have the following qualities: Loyalty, Forgiveness, Honesty, and Dedication. A real friend walks in when everyone else walks out. What kind of friends do you have?
The Benefits of Friendship
“He who walks with wise men will be wise…” (Prov. 13:20). Friends are like buttons on an elevator, they can take you up or they will take you down. I thank God that He took some people out of my life and brought other people into my life. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend… And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel” (Prov. 27:6, 9). A friend will tell you the truth even when it hurts. They give good advice. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17). Every time you are around a godly friend they make you a better person. I married my best friend. She makes me better. The devil does not want you to have a godly friend, or to be in church with a group of Christian friends. Jesus had the crowds, He had 12 disciples, and He had three men in His inner circle. If Jesus in His humanity needed friends, how much more do we need friends. The native Indians had a word for friend that meant “he who carries my sorrow on his back.” That is what Jesus did for us. Jesus is the friend of sinners. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends… (John 15:13-15).
Jesus is the best friend of all. His arms are opened wide. He will never leave or forsake you. Just like Abraham was the friend of God, you can be the friend of God. A friend knows all about you and loves you anyway. Even the best of earthly friends will disappoint you and let you down. But not Jesus. He will never leave us or forsake us. Today you can know the greatest friend of all, Jesus.