WHAT MAKES A TRUE FRIEND? What distinguishes such from a mere acquaintance? Why is having true friends somethings worthwhile? Is it very important to have a friend? Turning to the pages of the Holy Scriptures, we learn the value of friendship thus: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up” (Eccles. 4:9-10, New International Version).
Indeed, as God’s word shows us, friendship is truly a good thing. At various times in our life, when crisis or personal tragedy comes, having a friend beside us can lift our spirits up. A true friend can be counted on to join with us in works for the good of the friendly relationship. A friend will come to our aid when we are in a bind and provide helpful advice and assistance in whatever way he can. The Bible even mentions that in times of danger, having a friend by our side is beneficial. Let’s take a look at what the Holy Scriptures shows us about friends in times of trouble: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Eccles. 4:12, Ibid.).
Clearly then, in the eyes of our Creator, friendship is a good thing. In fact, as you can see from the verse we have just quoted, a friend is a good thing to have and it is even better to have friends! Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ also talked about a characteristic of true friendship to his people: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, Ibid.).
Here, Jesus speaks how a true friend can express what he feels. According to Jesus, one way someone can express his friendship is through his willingness to give up something valuable to him for the one he regards as a true friend. However, it is also so important for us to understand that it is possible that a friend can put us in danger. Some may see this as a contradiction. But it is not. Why? Apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians: “In my many travels I have been in danger from floods and from robbers, in danger from fellow Jews and from Gentiles; there have been dangers in the cities, dangers in the wilds, dangers on the high seas, and dangers from false friends” (II Cor. 11:26, Today’s English Version).
Apostle Paul was one who experienced many moments of danger when he truly needed a friend. As we could see, he found out that there were those with him that he could not count on. He talked to members of the Church in Corinth about dangers, and included so-called friends who turned out to be what he described as “false friends.” They may have presented themselves as true friends, but, in reality they were not. Is there a way for us also to determine whether or not some of the acquaintances we may have in our own lives are actually false friends? Apostle Paul went on to say the following: “Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for ‘bad company corrupts good character'” (I Cor. 15:33, New Living Translation).
BEWARE OF FALSE FRIENDS
False friends or acquaintances can fool some people. They can be very deceptive. That is why the apostle gave such warning that we should not be fooled by them. He also mentioned the result if we would not be careful, saying that even our good character could be corrupted. It is easy then to see that not all friends are good. Disaster can strike us if we are not very careful in choosing our friends and those whom we spend time with. What are some of the destructive habits that false friends may try to lead us according to the Bible? “Listen, my son, be wise and give serious thought to the way you live. Don’t associate with people who drink too much wine or stuff themselves with food. Drunkards and gluttons will be reduced to poverty. If all you do is eat and sleep, you will soon be wearing rags” (Prov. 23:19-21, TEV).
No one wants to be reduced to poverty. But, that is what will happen if we choose as friends people who drink, overeat, and are lazy. These so-called friends will lead us to self-destruction. These kinds of friends will not encourage us to do what is good for us. What they are, in fact, will be the kind of influence they will try to wield. King Solomon described their actions like this: “Son, don’t go with people like that. Stay away from them. They can’t wait to do something bad. They’re always ready to kill” (Prov 1:15-16, Ibid.).
After giving advice about staying away from such false friends, he also described them. They are the type of people that are always eager to lead us toward something bad, even violence. But who are such kind of people hurting the most? “But men like that are setting a trap for themselves, a trap in which they will die” (Prov. 1:18, Ibid.)
CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS
It is normal for young people to have a desire to fit in, and be accepted by their peer group. And as we have learned in the initial verses we quoted, the normal youthful tendency toward the pursuit of companionship, independence, and the building of a circle of friends wherein one spends much of his time is not something that God is againts, or that He prohibits. However, as we have also seen, He clearly warns about being careful in the choices one makes concerning friendship. In one’s passion for companionship and friendship, what guidance does God give to His people when choosing the type of person to spend time with and include in the circle of our acquaintances? “Avoid the passions of youth, and strive for righteousness, faith, love, and peace, together with those who with a pure heart call out to the Lord for help” (II Tim 2:22, Ibid.).
The Bible teaches us to strive for righteousness and to be in the company of people who call out to the Lord for help, that we may have a life filled with faith, love, and peace. Such companions, who strive to live a holy life will surely never lead us toward danger but will be around to help us in time of great need. There is an example recorded in the Bible of a true servant of God who spoke of the criteria he used when choosing one who he would consider in his circle of friends. The writings of King David recorded: “I am a friend of all who serve you, of all who obey you laws” (Ps. 119:63, Ibid.).
He was eager to be a friend of those who serve God and of those who wanted to obey God’s laws. Is that also how we choose our friends? If we want to know the best way to be a friend to others, the Bible also teaches us that here: “I have not kept the news of salvation to myself; I have always spoken of your faithfulness and help. In the assembly of all you people I have not been silent about you loyalty and consistent love” (Ps. 40:10, Ibid.).
Members of the Church of Christ therefore extend their invitation to everyone they meet at school, at work, and in all their journeys in this life to become a true servant of God, here inside the true “Church of Christ,” which is great act of friendship one can extend to another.
Source: IGLESIA NI CRISTO, Pasugo, God’s Message, June 2010 Edition, Volume 62, Number 6, ISSN 0116-1636, p. 12-13, by ROBERT F. PELLIEN