Posted: 7/18/15 at 8:15am. Column by Ed Jordan.
What are the qualities that you would use to describe a friend? For many years people have said that a dog is man’s best friend.
When asked why this is true, responses include such things as: “Dogs are man’s best friend because dogs are loyal to their owner. Dogs are committed to their master. Dogs don’t make huge demands beyond wanting you to love them. Dogs are faithful. Dogs are sensitive to human feelings.”
Many people would use most of these qualities to describe a true friend. True friends are loyal to each other, and demonstrate steadfast commitment to each other. Dogs will try to enter a burning building to save the human they love, and humans will try to enter a burning building to save the dog they love. Mutual commitment is certainly a prime ingredient of friendship.
All of us have had relationships where we stood by the other one through thick and thin, only to have a friend cave in to peer pressure or personal necessity and hang us out to dry. It is a painful lesson to learn. Some people are true friends, through thick and thin.
Others are so-called “fair-weather” friends, who are in reality faux friends. If we are only “friends” with someone when they are in a position to help us or further our career, then perhaps we don’t understand as well as we should the meaning of true friendship.
In Proverbs 18:24 (NRSV) we read: “Some friends play at friendship, but a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin.”
True friends are amazing treasures and blessings. My wife is my best friend. We recently celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary. She has remained committed to me through good times and bad, through times of financial uncertainty and stress, through huge cultural disruptions of moving to live in another country, functioning in another language, and then returning to readjust to life in America. There is a friend who sticks closer than your family of origin.
We have been blessed with friends who have been faithful to remain in touch with us for over three decades. One friend of ours has remained in communication with us throughout all the transitions of our lives. Since we live in different states we seldom see each other yet stay in touch through social media.
We have numerous friends in Hungary, with whom we have very deep, lasting friendships. We have not been financially able to return to visit them in Hungary, nor do they have resources to come to America to visit us, but our hearts are knit together, and we stay connected in deep friendship.
We have friends in Idaho with whom we shared life and events for many years. We have many new friendships that are now developing where we currently live and serve today. We have been blessed with friends who have blessed us with their love and commitment, and in some way we too have blessed them through our love and commitment to them. Due to our interacting with people from numerous countries while living overseas, we have friends in numerous countries, and in many states in America.
Proverbs 18:24 describes that there are some people who just play at being friends, i.e., just pretend to be friends, or flirt with being someone’s friend. Then there are others who are friends that commit themselves to you with an openness and loyalty that changes lives through the depth of trust, encouragement, love and commitment. I guess the challenge to each of us is to evaluate our own lives and relationships to see if we are just playing at friendship with someone, or are really being a friend that sticks closer than a brother.
Who are the friends in your life to whom you are loyal and committed? Are you friends with them because of what you can get from them, or based upon what you can give to them? Is your friendship a one-way or a two-way street?
Speaking of friends, you can have no better friend in life than Jesus. Do you know Him? Are you committed to Him, and loyal to Him? You will never, ever experience a greater loyalty than you will find in Jesus’ commitment to you.
What kind of friend are you? What kind of friend do you want to become?