pinky-swear-329329_1280By Dr. Harold Sala

A friend loves at all times …  Proverbs 17:17

A friend is one to whom we may pour out all the contents of our hearts (chaff and grain together) knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away,” says an Arabian proverb.

What is a friend?

  • “A friend is a balancing pole,” said an athlete, “without which it is impossible to walk safely the tightrope of life.”
  • “A friend is a jewel,” said a girl, “that shines brightest in the darkness of misfortune.”
  • “A friend is a volume,” said a journalist, “a volume of sympathy, bound in cloth, as a rule, though in rare cases the binding may be silken.”
  • “A friend is a gold link,” mused a jeweler, “in the chain of life.”
  • “A friend is a medicine,” said a doctor, “for the ills of life.”
  • A woman who had known misfortune and heartache in life said, “A friend is the first person who comes in when the whole world has gone out.”

A true friend is all of these, plus a great deal more.  I’ve been musing on the qualities of friendship lately, and I am quick to say that God has blessed me with some very faithful, very dedicated friends; but I have also concluded most of us have a lot of acquaintances, but not very many real friends. As a businessman confided, “When I lost my home because of business failure, my friends lost my phone number, but the bill collectors sure found it.”

Real friendship isn’t affected by social status, the economy, distance, or even time.  With a real friend, you pick up a relationship where it was, no matter how far away you have been, or how long it has been since you were together.  Real friendship isn’t tarnished by money or the lack of it, nor is it enhanced by prestige and success.  “If you love someone,” says The Living Bible paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:7, “you will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.”

Would you say that friendship hasn’t held up well with the withering heat of life today?  Lots of people complain that they have only one or two close friends, and many say that they don’t have a single real friend.

Without being too philosophical, I think there are some reasons for this.  One is mobility.  Friendships don’t come with “instant development.”  They take time, and the way we live today often keeps us from reaching out to each other in relationships that really develop into deep and lasting friendships.  Superficial relationships produce lots of acquaintances but not many friends.  A real friend is one with whom you can really be vulnerable without thought of rejection or censure.  You can be yourself and know that you will still be loved and accepted.  That’s what friendship is all about.  Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times…”

Another statement in the same book says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24, KJV), which may be one of the reasons some have so few real friends. But I don’t want to end on a negative note.  There are scores of people who are desperately looking for a friend, who want to go beyond the veneer of simply being an acquaintance.  Be the first to extend a hand and open a heart.  No matter how much you have, you never, never can have too many friends.

Resource reading: John 15:9-17.

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