This past weekend Norma Jean and I have enjoyed the hospitality of our friends Aaron and Kristin Thompson in Castle Rock, Colorado.
We first meet Aaron and Kristin when we moved to Tampa in 2002 to work with the North Boulevard church. They were single college students. During our time there, they began dating, married, and sweet Molly was born. After moving to Colorado they gave birth to their son Caleb, a lovable, energetic little fellow.
Being with the Thompsons rekindles my appreciation for the need, joy, and value of good friendships.
In our 50+ years of marriage Norma Jean and I have worked with 9 different congregations in six different states. While we made new friends each place we lived, we have managed to keep friends from previous places. We are blessed that in each church we still have friends that we keep in contact with until this day. Plus many others in various churches where we’ve held gospel meetings throughout the United States and Canada.
While we have friends our age and older, we value the friendships of younger people like Aaron and Kristin and so many others like them. They have enriched our lives. Given us a unique perspective on various issues. Broadened our horizons. Increased our knowledge. Sharpened our senses. Offered support. And strengthened our hope for the future of the church. Their dedication, discipleship, and determination to live godly lives and raise their children in the nurture of the Lord is refreshing and encouraging.
The Bible has a lot to say about the importance of our friendships.
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. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Eccl. 4:9-12)
This physical metaphor speaks to a relational truth. Real friends provide emotional warmth and support in a world that is too often cold and calloused.
The right kind of friendship encourages personal development and spurs spiritual growth. 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. Author Elisabeth Folley was right when she wrote, “The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.”
…is about relationship and rapport.
…has to do with community. Commonality. Closeness. Companionship. And comradeship.
…is mutual affection, affinity, and amiability.
…involves attraction, association, attachment.
…is akin to fellowship. There is a mutuality between friends that creates a special bond. It is participation. Sharing. And cooperation.
…is interwoven with feelings of fondness. Kindness. Concern. And compassion.
…is built on respective trust. Shared interests. Common values. And mutual understanding.
Finally, the advice of the late Zig Ziglar, is worth noting when seeking friendships. “If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman