Proverbs 17:17, A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. From what I can tell we don’t have a lot of friends. They say, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." Enemies we have a lot of, right? Haters are gonna hate, but what’s up with the lack of authentic, transparent, vulnerable community that we all crave by God’s design? Why don’t we have loyal, committed friendships?
First, to have a friend, you need to be friend, so raise your hand on that one. In other words, we want really good friends that will love us at all times, but we don’t do such a good job of loving others.
So, we struggle with the love part. What is love? Glad you asked. We define love by 1st Corinthians 13. What we could say is, friends are patient, friends are kind, friends do not envy or boast, they are not arrogant or rude towards each other, friends do not insist on their own way, they are not irritable or resentful, love (friends) do not rejoice at wrong doing but rejoices with the truth. Friends hang in there with each other - they bear all things, believe all things, a friend has hope and real friendships will endure all things.
The word friend and brother are synonymous in Proverbs 17:17, they are equal, friends will act like family, if you know what I mean … the idea of friendship is loving and being loved … how do you know you are in a friendship (this is a huge question that deserves an answer), how do we separate people who are friends and who are NOT friends? It is based on the love test. You love them and they love you back … how do you know this love is there? Go back to 1st Corinthians 13, right? That’s how you find out and know who your friends are? A friend loves at all times.
This is why Jesus is our best friend, He knows how to love. I think of all the times that Jesus DOESN’T run from me in my mess, but He runs TO me in my mess.
I’m wondering if we struggle with the words "love" and "friend" … they are hard to define in practical and daily terms if that makes sense … and a lot of people probably throw these words around a lot, like, "Sure, she’s my friend" and "Oh, yeah, I love you."
A lot of people will say they love you but they don’t mean it … I mean 50% of marriages end in divorce so where’s the love … most people love you until they don’t … and so real friendship is hard to find … most people are your friend until they aren’t, and that’s not me saying that, it’s God, Proverbs 18:24, "A man of many friends will experience difficulty and can be destroyed, …" We probably have too many of the wrong friends and not enough of the right friends.
Ken, is this all bad news? No way; be encouraged it doesn’t have to be this way. God doesn’t want it this way. Our goal is to figure this thing out and to apply the precepts of God and learn to love and how to be in friendships that survive the test of friendship.
Where do we go from here? Next time you disagree with your "friend," next time there is turbulence within the relationship, don’t let it be a game changer or deal breaker. Love your friend, be like Jesus, love your friends at all times. He told me to tell you that.