How important is friendship in your life?
As I get older I am realizing how much value is placed on being a good friend and having good friends. The more I learn about this topic the more I recognize how much I need to grow in this area. God has put into the human heart the desire to know and be known and to love and be loved. And while technology has changed the way people connect, it has also stolen an important part to human interaction.
In the times we are in, it is very rare to call someone and spend hours on the phone talking about the ‘good old days.’ My grandma tells me that when she was young, it was not uncommon to have neighbors, family, co-workers and friends drop in at all hours of the day un-announced. Today, communication is limited to text messaging, e mail and social networks. We may not have seen an old friend for years and to make up for lost time we jump on Facebook, look at their profile and suddenly we know everything about them in less than 10 minutes. To understand this important topic in a deeper sense, I wanted to refer to what scripture says.
The bible offers great insight on friendship.
In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 it says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” When we read these words of Solomon we tend to think in terms of marriage, and there certainly is that application. But I believe the author had a much wider application in mind. The writer of Ecclesiastes wants us to understand that friendship is a good investment. When the author says, “Two are better than one, because they have good reward for their work” the words “good reward” can also be translated “good return.” What I have learned is the very best investment you will ever make in life will not be a financial one, but rather the investment made in relationships. As we go through life there are two kinds of things we can give our lives to. Some people try to accumulate possessions. They are constantly trying accumulate ‘stuff.’ But if we spend all our lives trying to accumulate more and more possessions, we will never truly be happy and fulfilled. On the other hand we can decide to focus on building relationships, making friends and being a friend.
While there may be many more, I recognized there are four important characteristics to being a friend:
- A real friend helps you when you’re down – If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up. We all know there is a difference between acquaintances and friends. Most of us are surrounded by people we consider acquaintances. But we often ask ourselves, what qualifies us to call someone a friend? It’s simple, just get in trouble, the people who are there for you during the tough times are your real friends.
- A real friend is someone who provides emotional or physical warmth in a cold, cruel world – if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Sometimes I have a tendency to take a passage so literally that I miss the point of the whole idea. This is more than just about keeping each other physically warm. We need to help one another face circumstances beyond our control; we need to be able to gain emotional strength when we do not have enough of our own. Think of life as a gas guage. Do your friends empty your emotional tank or fill your tank? Real friends are always there to encourage you, pray for you and help you, thus filling your tank. And vice versa, do you fill your friend’s tank or empty their tank? Are you an encourager or discourager? Real friends are encouragers of each other during good times and bad.
- A real friend is someone who will fight to protect you – Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. When these words were written it was based on military strategy. Almost all combat back then was hand to hand combat. Soldiers went into battle with a partner, someone that could be counted on and trusted. The soldiers stood back to back to one another and they always kept their backs in contact and fought together. Friends not only will never stab you in the back, they guard your back and protect you.
- A real friend is committed to helping you grow spiritually and is a completer for you – As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). The greatest gift you can offer a friend is the invitation to a relationship with God. Friends should be deeply concerned about each other’s eternal salvation. Friends should be challenging us and even pushing us to be all that God wants for us to be. George Guzzardo says in his article Are You a Completer, “Completers work interdependently to bring out the best in each other.” Friends should complete you and help you grow.
We should all strive to be a good friend because by being a good friend we will likely attract good friends.
I am so thankful to have information from the-life-business that can help me grow in the area of friendship. In Orrin Woodward’s book Resolved, he discusses friendship with a much deeper interpretation. I encourage everyone to get their hands on this book! In Chris Brady’s ‘relationships’ audio he says, “I have almost no friendship train wrecks in my life.” We should all strive to be a good friend to others because that’s within our control; and by doing so we will connect and develop great relationships with great people.
We can learn so much from others who have had long lasting friendships. I stumbled upon this video that is both humorous and teachable and I hope it helps you on the journey as you develop unbreakable friendships.