Have you ever thought about the role friends play in your life? I’ve had hundreds, maybe thousands of opportunities to reflect on the blessing of friends in my own life, many just yesterday. In fact I was doing that last night as I reviewed my day and realized how many interactions with friends occurred in just one 12 hour period. If you haven’t done it recently, thank God for your friends, then contact some today – just to let them know you are thinking of them and love them.
A few days ago, I was reading about Job and was heartbroken for how his friendships deteriorated as has life crumbled. I wondered why his friends let him down when his need for them was greatest. That trek through Job sent me in search of guidelines for creating a firm foundation for friendships. Imagine my disappointment when I read more accounts of dysfunctional friendships than compassionate. What can we learn from that? The same things we can learn from any experience; if we don’t want ‘that’ result, we need to change the behavior. Proverbs 18:15 says “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” My goal is to learn to be a good friend so I can practice it always.
I remember hearing someone say “True friendship divides our grief and doubles our joy.” I think that means that when our burdens are so heavy we can’t stand up under them, we seek out a true friend who listens with their heart and it makes our burden lighter. And in all the times that bring us joy – it’s reciprocal and exponential. If you’re a guy reading this, you might think – “Aw that’s so female.” But I’ve got to tell you – it is not at all female. Job was a guy. David was a guy. Moses was a guy. Need I convince you further?
The book of Ecclesiastes, if you recall, is famous for reminding us how mundane life can be sometimes. When I think of it, all I remember are the words threading through it “vanity, vanity, all is vanity’. Right? But look what Ecclesiastes 4:10 has to say about the benefit of friends “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” I know people who isolate themselves, prefer to get along without friends, and don’t need anyone to pick them up. I love my friends, whether casual or deep – they are priceless. In fact Proverbs 31:10 offers a pretty close assessment. “Who can find a virtuous woman of noble character? for her price is far above rubies.” Virtuous, noble character, friend. A friend like that would practice the words in Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – “
Do you have friends? Are they great friends? How is their character? Do they encourage you? When you consider your friends do you appreciate them just for being authentically them? If you do, then be thankful – as it says here in 1 Chronicles 23:30 “They were to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and then do the same in the evening.” If you are reading this – thank you. I consider you a friend and I thank God for you.
Remember this: Be authentically you because nobody else is qualified.