If you’re on facebook, you have “friends.” But that doesn’t mean you have a friendship with everyone on your list.
“I don’t need to go onto facebook and pretend to have friends I’ve never even met,” observed actress Stephanie Powers. “To my mind, that kind of destroys the meaning of the word ‘friend.’ I take exception to that. Because I value and respect friendship.”
Friendship is about relationship and rapport. Friendship has to do with community. Commonality. Closeness. Companionship. And comradeship.
Friendship is mutual affection, affinity, and amiability. Friendship involves attraction, association, attachment.
Friendship is akin to fellowship. There is a mutuality between friends that creates a special bond. It is participation. Sharing. And cooperation.
Friendship is interwoven with feelings of fondness. Kindness. Concern. And compassion.
Friendship is built on respective trust. Shared interests. Common values. And mutual understanding.
The Bible has a good deal to say about friends and friendship.
It’s worth noting that we are warned about the wrong kind of relationships. James reminds us that “friendship with the world is enmity with God” (Jas 4:3). And Paul advises that “bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor 15:33).
The wise man observed, “Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel. Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend.” (Prov. 27:9-10). Keil and Delitzsch observe how the ancients perfumed with dry aromas and the sprinkling of liquid aromas “as a mark of honor toward guests and a means of promoting joyful social fellowship.” In the same way, friends provide delight. Give pleasure. Offer counsel. Furnish joy.
The ancient Preacher offers a practical value of friendship. Friends help each other when one falls or fails. “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up” (Eccl. 4:9-10)
The wise man continues this thought by adding, “Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?” (Eccl. 4:11). This is more than just physical warmth. Friends provide emotion warmth and support in world that is too often cold and calloused.
Furthermore, friends protect you. Stand up for you. Fight for you.
“Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Eccl. 4:12). The Preacher’s point was based on the military strategy of the ancient world. Almost all combat was hand to hand. Soldiers went into battle with a partner, someone who could be counted on and trusted. They stood back to back and fought any enemy that came from the side. True friends never stab you in the back, but they guard your back. A real friend will protect your reputation.
The right kind of friendship spurs growth and encourages personal and spiritual development. Solomon put it this way, “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” (Prov 27:17) True friends want to see their friends improve, grow and get better. A person who is jealous or resentful of your growth is not a true friend.
“True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils,” observed the 17th century Spanish philosopher, Baltasar Cracian. “Strive to have friends,” he encouraged, “for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman