Having a genuine friend is one of the best things in life! Although the term “friend” is casually tossed about nowadays, I am referring to a friend like the type described by Aristotle described: “A friend is one person living in two bodies.” It’s rare to have a friend that fits Aristotle’s description, but when we do it truly is one of the best things of life. I don’t think Aristotle meant that a friend has to like all the same things you like, or even want to do everything you want to do, rather a friend is one whose cares for you just like they care for their self.
Nowadays people seem very casual about friendship—meaning that many people will refer to mere acquaintances as a friend. And certainly the use of the term “friend” on Facebook and other social media has done much to dilute its meaning, as we now refer to someone we’ve never met and know nothing about as a friend. There was a time when people were very careful about who they befriended, and friendship was not treated as lightly as it is today.
In biblical times, considering someone to be your friend was a very big deal. This was a time when people were very careful about who they offered hospitality to. The world was a very unsafe place, so making yourself vulnerable by exposing yourself, your family and goods to others by inviting them into your shelter and sharing meals was not done lightly. A friend was someone that you would protect and defend, possibly even give your life for—and you knew they would do the same for you. A close friend was on the top of a person’s list of “My Most Valuable Things,” right alongside a brother or other family member, because a true friend could be counted on at all times.
Consider the following wise advice about friends from the Book of Proverbs.
- Choose your friends carefully
The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. (Pro. 12:26 NIV Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared. (Pro. 22:24-25 NIV)
- You can count on a true friend
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (Pro. 17:17 NIV) One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Pro. 18:24 NIV) Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family, and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you—better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away. (Pro 27:9-10 NIV)
- True friends speak the truth
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. (Pro. 27:6 NIV) Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. (Pro. 27:9)
Here are some of my personal experiences about a true friend.
A true friend is someone who:
- Knows all about you—all your bumps and blisters, your ups and downs, your hurts and your bluster—and still loves you in spite of them.
- You can spill your guts out to and know that he or she won’t judge you by it—but helps you through it.
- Helps you find your way back to the path when you are lost in the woods.
- Helps you remember the song in your heart when you’ve forgotten the melody.
- Brings you a box of sunshine when all you can see is gloom and darkness.
- Lends you their strength when you are weak.
- Cuts right through the baloney you spew and tells it “like it really is.”
A friend like that is truly a gift from God. Treat your true friend like the precious golden nugget they are!