Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”.
In the Bible, Proverbs outlines several pieces of advice when it comes to friendships and the value of friendships. The verse above speaks to the importance of friends helping each other grow and succeed. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” For the vast majority of people, your family can be counted on in times of difficulty. It is almost a given that family will bind together when times are tough. But, it is possible that a person may not be very close to their family or in reality, not exactly like certain family members very much. True friends, the Bible says, are there for you at all times (good and bad). True friendships are chosen and a gift, whereas family is not chosen. Choosing, forging, and keeping true friends are vital for success in life.
When we go through the grocery store checkout line, what is typically the theme of the magazine covers? It certainly is not about “Look who is best friends with who!”
Our society values more of a liberal and individualistic cultural, therefore the magazines, movies, songs, and entertainment news is almost always about “Look who is dating who!”
In a culture where romantic and family relationships seem to be the priority for most people, what room is there for adults to form deep and intimate friendships? We live in a culture where many people are very mobile and distant because of jobs and other commitments. The reason many people don’t have all the friendships that their hearts desire is because they themselves are not being great friends to others. It takes a commitment and sacrifice to give the time and effort needed to foster these relationships. Here are four aspects that are vital in creating true friendships with others:
1. Constancy – A true friend loves at all times. They are there for you in good, bad, and ugly times. When we are in moments of personal suffering, most people we know and most acquaintances will say, “Let me know if you need anything” and “I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers”. True friends are a constant presence and will say, “I’ll be right over” and will spend the time necessary with you.
2. Carefulness – They are sensitive to your vulnerabilities and know where the line is not to cross with you from an emotional standpoint. There is a deep emotional connection and therefore it is difficult for either person to enjoy himself or herself if the other person is struggling.
3. Candor – A true friend is going to give you their honest opinion in an effort to help you. They will not let you struggle with something and just stand on the sidelines while it happens. Whereas some friends or acquaintances would not want to “hurt your feelings” by telling you their opinion, a true friend shows they care by showing their honesty.
4. Counsel – True friends confide in each other and make themselves vulnerable towards one another. A great friend will always let you in and never lets you down.
After reading the four keys you may find yourself evaluating how many “true” friends you really have. If your list is relatively small, that is appropriate. The reality is that you cannot emotionally or physically invest in too many friendships. In a Facebook society where higher numbers of “Friends” mean a higher status, we can easily get discouraged and misled. Most of the people who we associate with do so because we are useful to them and they are useful to us. Our self-concept is typically shaped based on the opinions of others and their view of us. The more powerful and successful we become in society the harder it is to have real friends. But there is hope…
When Jesus spoke to the disciples shortly before He died (John 15:13-17), He outlined that they no longer were His servants, but instead His friends because they had shared in intimate knowledge of what Jesus knew about God. Because we have God’s word and can have a personal relationship with Christ, we always have a friend in Jesus. A friend who always loves, never gives up on us, provides the wisest counsel, and gave his life for us. If we focus our friendships on being what Christ is for us and finding fellow Christians who share in this passion, we open up a whole new world for potential friendships.
Tagline: Michael Linn, M.Ed., is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is a Regional Director at Safe Harbor Christian Counseling with office locations in Altoona, Carlisle, Chambersburg, Fairfield, Hagerstown, and Gettysburg. Please visit http://www.safeharbor1.com for more information or call 717-264-0614 to make an appointment.