With the invention of social media, various networks create the opportunity for people to connect in all sorts of amazing ways. Friends, family and acquaintances are able to interact in ways that may not be possible due to distance or other restrictions. With many positives, one dangerous thing about this is the way the word “friend” has become cheapened in this process. In a single click somebody you don’t know or barely know becomes your “friend”. This list of “friends” can become huge before you know it. I understand the value and benefits of social networks, but we need to make sure that as Christians we don’t allow important things like friendship to be cheapened, redefined or even hijacked.
It is important to understand that friendship is a precious gift from God that has untold value. To have somebody close to you, somebody loyal to you, somebody supporting you, are great blessings and ought to be valued and enjoyed.
The book of Proverbs is filled with wisdom in dealing with the topic of friendship and other portions of Scripture provide principles and examples of godly friendship. I would like to draw from some of these texts and provide some principles of wisdom concerning friendship and what a true friend looks like.
A TRUE FRIEND HAS CHARACTER
A true friend will be someone marked by good and godly character. The Bible is very clear on the danger and harm that comes when somebody enters into a close friendship with those of ungodly character. Solomon warned against walking in the way of those who do not fear God (). In providing counsel to choose friends wisely, Solomon said,
Notice the warning that a friend without godly character (in this case an angry person) will provide a bad influence and a snare to one’s life, which is a valuable warning. Don’t ever forget that “bad company ruins good morals” ().
A TRUE FRIEND HAS CONCERN
A true friend is a concerned friend. Out of love and loyalty toward you they want what is truly best for you. Unlike the “people-pleasing friend” who doesn’t actually care for you, a concerned friend is always looking out for you. Solomon said, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (). A godly friend will speak faithful and true words that at times may hurt, but they come from one who is truly concerned for you Why? It is because they love the Word of God and want what is best for you. The concern, care and counsel coming from a true friend brings sweetness to one’s life. As Solomon also said, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel” ().
A TRUE FRIEND HAS COMMITMENT
A true friend has commitment because “a friend loves at all times” (). This love is demonstrated by a display of selfless sacrifice and loyalty. An amazing example of this is seen in the friendship between David and Jonathan (). One can unwisely choose many friends to surrounded them, but such unwise choices will lead to complications and problems in the future. But for the one who chooses a friend wisely there will be great benefit, thus enjoying a relationship closer than a brother ().
Friendship is a precious gift from God that has untold value. This is why we must seek out those individuals who are marked by godly character, concern and commitment. As precious as the gift of friendship is though, one must never forget that great privilege of the child of God being called a friend of Christ (). We are His friends because He chose us () and saved us from our sins. If you are a believer, know that no matter what may go on around you, no matter how lonely you may ever feel, Jesus calls you His friend. Prize that and honour Him.
10 My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14 throw in your lot among us;
we will all have one purse”—
15 my son, do not walk in the way with them;
hold back your foot from their paths,
16 for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
17 For in vain is a net spread
in the sight of any bird,
18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
they set an ambush for their own lives.
19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
it takes away the life of its possessors.
24 Make no friendship with a man given to anger,
nor go with a wrathful man,
25 lest you learn his ways
and entangle yourself in a snare.
33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
17 A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
19:1 And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David. 2 And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself. 3 And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. And if I learn anything I will tell you.”
1 Samuel 20:4
4 Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.”
1 Samuel 20:31
31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.”
24 A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.