September 29 I Thursday
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” —Proverbs 18:24, ESV
In C. S. Lewis’s book The Four Loves, he outlines four different kinds of love found in human relationships: there is eros, which is romantic, sexual love; affection, which is the love a parent has for a child; charity, a general kindness we show to everyone; and friendship, which Lewis says is the most neglected kind of love. He writes of friendship, “It is something quite marginal; not a main course in life’s banquet; a diversion; something that fills up the chinks of one’s time.”
Friendship was never meant to be a diversion, but to be desirable. When God said in the Garden of Eden, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18), He was not speaking solely of Adam’s need for Eve. God designed humanity to find meaning and satisfaction in relationships outside of our families, but many of us settle for acquaintances, people we bounce off like billiard balls. We have neighbours, coworkers and colleagues, but due to insecurities, the busyness of life or past friendships that have failed us, we might find it hard to develop deep, intimate friendship with others.
A real friend is faithful, which involves more than spending time together once in a while. Faithful friendship is intentional and requires work. It involves a commitment that is unconditional and unending, where we have moved past having to earn friendship. As Solomon writes, “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17), and is willing to celebrate their friend’s triumphs and help them up when they fall.
Frankness is another valuable quality in friendship. “Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favour rather than one who has a flattering tongue” (Proverbs 28:23). Encouragement is good, but flattery can be deceiving. Real friends are not afraid to challenge and rebuke when it is needed, speaking words of correction from a place of love and a desire to see their friend strengthened.
Fellowship is also an incredible blessing of friendship. It is usually with our friends we are most willing to move past the superficial and share the deep feelings, desires and anxieties of our hearts. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). There is value in debate and disagreement between friends, because through these we sharpen and build each other up. But the greatest contribution we can make in the lives of our friends is helping them find strength in God by speaking of Him and allowing our friends to see the place God has in our lives. We are not meant to be islands that stand alone, but to cultivate friendships by opening our hearts to our friends, building into each other and growing together in God.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You know my struggles with friendship. Help me to be a good friend so that as I interact with them, we can help each other grow and know You better. Thank You, Lord.