So this week I wanted to continue exploring the idea of friendship. We all know that friendship isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, so lets take a look at some verses in proverbs that give us an insight in to the tougher side of friendship.
Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)
17 A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
So the first part of this scripture states that 'A friend loves at all times'. Thats a bold statement to make. Could you say today that you love your friends at all times? What the writer is trying to convey here is that true friendship transcends difficult situations, arguments and times of struggle. A true friend will love you whether the situation is good or bad. They will be with you whether you are on top of the mountain or you're stuck in the middle of a raging storm.
1 Corinthians 13:7 (NIV)
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This passage in Corinthians highlights some of the characteristics of 'love'. We often use this verse when discussing marriage or romantic relationships as well when we look at the characteristics of God. But, this verse can also be applied to our friendships. A true friend, that loves at all times will display this through protecting, trusting, hoping and persevering.
The verse then goes on to say that 'a brother is born for a time of adversity'. This gives us the idea that we were created for adversity. God knew what was going to happen at the beginning of creation, he made Adam and Eve because he knew that as humans we needed companionship/friendship. The whole concept of fellowship within the church is a foundational part of friendship. So we know that we are designed for friendship, we are designed to live through the tough side of friendship.
For me, this raises some questions for me to reflect on:
Am I really a friend to anyone? (This question is designed to help assess loyalty to friends and identify where we might be falling short of the kind of friendship outlined in this passage)
How can I be a true friend? (Now we have identified some of the relationships/friendships in which we might be falling short, let's think about how we can strive to be better.)
Who are my true friends? (The idea behind this question is to help identify our true friends, this doesn't mean that we shouldn't exhibit true friendship to those who aren't extending it us. We have to strive to show others our love regardless of there actions towards us.)
One thing that needs to be mentioned here is the idea that the empty glass can't pour out any water. We are human and we can't help every single person in the world. We have to balance our time and our energy in order to make sure what we are doing isn't detrimental to our friends and us. If we try and be the answer to all of our friends problems then eventually we might do more harm than good. Quite often part of being a true friend is knowing when you're not equipped to deal with an issue but signposting the person to the right place. That doesn't mean you aren't sticking with them or supporting them, but it means you're doing what's right for them.
I pray that we might strive to be 'true friends' and that our love for one another would be evident in all that we do as a community of believers.