Friendship - What Does It Mean To Be A Friend?
Today everyone has friends. Everyone knows that everyone else has friends. But how many people can really call a friend a friend?
The Oxford Dictionary defines a friend as : a person who feels mutual affection and regard for another; a helper; a person who is not an enemy.
I found it to be interesting that the last definition brought up enemies for often, friends - or people who we classify as friends - act exactly as an enemy would act don't they?
Most people I know have at least two hundred friends on FaceBook. Some have over a thousand friends and are quite proud of this fact. The thing is, though, these aren't friends. As a matter of fact I've been told by many that people 'friend' each other on FaceBook in order to mind other people's business. Adding someone as a friend is an easy way to track recent movements. This is one of the glaring clues in today's world that illustrates the fact that the word 'friend' no longer means what it used to. The word 'friend' today could mean anything from online acquaintance to someone you met in passing. Does it refer to those who will be there for you regardless of what may come? I have found that the answer to that question is hardly ever.
In the Bible there are many examples of friendships and many verses that speak about what it means to be a friend. Although they are there for all to see, I find that many professing Christians do not have the right idea of what it really means to either be a friend or have someone as a friend.
Friendship According To The Bible
The first friendship that immediately comes to mind in the Bible is that of David and Jonathan. Jonathan's father Saul was David's enemy (although David was not his) but this did not stop Jonathan from being a loyal friend. The Bible says that their souls were knit together and that all that Jonathan had to protect himself he took off and gave to David. He was there for David until the end and David was there for his friend even after Jonathan died. He made certain that Jonathan's children were provided for. (See 1 Samuel Chapter 18)
Another friendship that comes to mind is that of Ruth and Naomi. Ruth was Naomi's daughter-in- law but she was her friend as well. Why else would she say that she would go wherever Naomi would go and that Naomi's God would be her God? Ruth was willing to forsake everything she knew in order to be with her friend. (See The Book of Ruth Chapter 1)
The person who is recorded to be the greatest friend of all time is of course Jesus Christ. He gave His life for His friends and He advised that no greater love hath any man than that he lay down his life for his friends (John Chapter 15 verses 12-14)
In the Book of Proverbs Chapter 17 verse 17 it says that, " A friend loveth at all times and a brother is born for adversity." This means that a friend is always there even in times of adversity and when a friendship goes through adversity then the friendship turns into brotherhood. For if one goes through adversity with a friend by one's side guiding and assisting whenever they can and giving and going all they can does not one then call the friend 'brother'?
Also in the Book of Proverbs, Chapter 18:23-24 to be exact, it says that, "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
The friend that sticks closer than a brother many believe is a reference to Jesus Christ and rightly so because once He is a friend He never leaves. Indeed He said 'I will never leave you neither forsake you.'
When we call ourselves Christians what we are saying in effect is that we are followers of Christ and that in our lives on earth we try each day to walk and live as He walked and lived. This includes being a friend as He is a friend. But how many of us really are friends like this? How many of us have many friends but the relationships with them are superficial at best?
When I asked those that I knew if they could count anyone as a friend. They all replied that they could. When asked how many they could count as a true friend they all admitted that that number was less than five. Some readily admitted that it was less than three. All said that there was nothing they would not do for their friend and that if given a chance they would give up their lives for a true and dear friend.
Here's the funny thing though. When asked if they would trust all of their money to their best friend they all said no. Some said it was because they knew the nature of their friend. Others said that money ruins friendships. But all voiced a resounding no.
How is it that one is willing to die for a friend but not lose all their money for a friend? Either one can do both or none at all? Either the person is a friend or not a friend at all. No wonder the Lord said that you cannot serve God and mammon. It would appear that many professing Christians without realizing it, actually value money more than they do friendship. Perhaps because they do not really know the meaning of friendship and in truth they are in denial and do not really have any friends at all.
So What Does It Mean To Be A Friend?
It means being willing to sacrifice all that you have for that individual whether it be money or life or reputation. It means doing something for the person even if you think that you will be taken advantage of. It is helping when you have no energy. It is completely dying to self. It is going the extra mile when there is no road left and you have to build it yourself. A friend truly loves at all times and having one is a gift that most do not receive in this life.
Do you have a true friend and are you a true friend to them? If so, thank God for this friendship today.