A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Most of us have lots of “friends” and “contacts” through social media and our cell phones, but I wonder just how close to each other we actually are? True friendship requires time together walking through the ups and downs of life…not via a Facebook page, but side by side…face to face…in the real world.
God created us for intimacy. First with Him as our Creator, and then with each other. We are not meant to live in isolation and that is why true friends are so important! But true friendship should do more than just provide a fun companion. A true friend should sharpen you…challenge you…make you a better version of yourself (Pr. 27:17). A true friend will be willing to stick with you when you make a mistake…especially a big one. A true friend will risk speaking a hard truth into your life, while a weak one will shy away from it (Pr. 27:6). True friend are there through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Of course, today’s proverb cuts both ways. By it we measure the authenticity of our existing friend’s actions and motivations…but we should also be willing to apply it to ourselves. Do you look for ways to help your friends improve? Are you willing to stick around when a friend offends you or hurts you or disappoints you? Do you ever step out of your comfort zone to speak a hard truth into your friend’s life that they need to be confronted with in love? Are you willing to help them out of a pit that they dug for themselves? Yes, true friends are hard to find…but it’s also hard to be one.
I love how the great preacher Adrian Rogers exhorts us to be a great friend with five “A” words that really make the point:
Accept your friend where they are at.
Acknowledge them fully by listening well.
Appreciate them with words and actions.
Affirm them as much as possible.
Assure them that you understand and care about them.