Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Importance of Friendship

"A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24). One important subject the Proverbs deals with is the subject of friendship. A good way to translate the first half of the above verse is "Some companions are good only for idle talk."The second half of the verse tells us that "The friend who sticks closer than a brother is the kind of friend to seek and to be." Any other kind of friend or friendship is not reliable. To say a "Friend loves at all times" means there is no "Time out" in friendship. Faithfulness in the time of need, is the idea. A statement I have heard many times is "He was a fair weather friend." This describes the fact that friends are easy to find when things are going well. The true measure of friendship is how well they stick when things are not going well. The Greek Old Testament of Proverbs 17:17 reads "A friend will be there for you in every kind of time." The thrust of the verse states the purpose of life is not to achieve personal fulfillment but to be in a meaningful relationship with someone else. This means "Foul weather friends" are the only ones worth having. How do you know they are "Foul weather friends"? They stick around in foul weather. Even more important a "Foul weather friend" is the only kind worth being. One of the tragedies of modern life is the way we move to new cities or new churches or new jobs and abandon the people that made our lives meaningful in the previous place. We lose a vital function of a long time friend, namely a friend finding the best in you and nurturing you in personal growth. A true friend will also point out our blind spots. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." An important principle is knowing when it is appropriate and when it is not appropriate to "Dump" on a friend. Sometimes sensitivity to our friend's problems will tell us that it is not time to share our problems with them, but time to help them carry their load. Both parties in a friendship need to seek that kind of sensitivity toward the other. In doing so they will find the own needs for friendship met and they will not damage the friendship they so intensely desire. God instructs us as to what kind of friends to choose but just as important He instructs us as to what kind of friend to be. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church ministry.

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