Pro 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
What do you value in a friend? What characteristics do you wish to see, in someone you would call your friend? If you have time, take a moment and jot a few down in your journal. We'll come back to that later . . .
I've not been blessed with all that many friends in my life. I count my hubby as my BFF, and my kids are close in line after him. I guess it is a combination of where I live (way out in the country) and my occupation (that keeps me super-busy) that has made it difficult to nurture friendships. There are some folks that I've not even met in person, face-to-face, in the same room, and all that. But I feel close to them, and they have showed me that they are good friends, nonetheless.
I think that we would all agree that the biggest thing to judge a friend on, is whether or not that relationship is constant. True friendship is a strong bond. If someone is my friend because it is serving some interest of theirs, then that is a shallow and selfish bond. It will easily break when they see that I no longer serve that purpose to them. I like what Matthew Henry said in his commentary:
. . . their affections turn with the wind and change with the weather. Swallow-friends, that fly to you in summer, but are gone in winter; such friends there is no loss of.I love my friends no matter if they are rich or poor, popular or in disgrace, close or far. If they are sincere, good, and wise, then I love them, no matter what!
I really like what the second half of the verse says. The word translated "brother" also means "kindred" like in kindred spirits. That kind of friend will be there when you are in adversity. Someone that is so "tuned in" to you that they know what you are experiencing; sometimes you can finish each others sentences, and other times you don't need to speak at all. The best example of this kind of friend is our savior, Jesus. He is a friend that loves at all times. Here are His own words that can comfort our souls:
"This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you."What an awesome, inspiring thing --- the Son of God is our friend! Our Best Friend Forever!
Climbing down from that mountaintop, let's see if we can tell where the rubber hits the road . . . if you wrote down some things in your journal, or if you just thought of some characteristics of good friends --- ask yourself if you model those in your dealings with others. You see, if we wish to have good friends, we must be good friends. Oh, and are we good friends with our Lord? Is our friendship constant? Don't worry, I'm asking myself these questions, too . . . If we see some areas that we can improve, let's write those in our journals, too.