One of the most misused words in the English language is the word friend. I have many acquaintances, people who I may know their names and even interact in a casual way but when they ask how am I doing, it warrants nothing more than a casual “fine”.
There is a group of people who are my comrades, we get together and work towards a common goal but that is all. I care about them, and genuinely like them but due to circumstances (not enough time to get to know them, etc.) our relationship has not grown to the next step. But I do have a group of people I count as friends. True friends I can count on and they can count on me.
There are two marks of a good friend, and they appear contradictory but not really:
- A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. –Proverbs 17:17 A friend just loves you in spite of who you are. I know my friends, they know me and we know we are not perfect but we know each other well enough we can accept each other and I know I can talk to them about anything and not be judged and get a honest answer which leads to point two:
- Faithful [are] the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy [are] deceitful. –Proverbs 27:6 If something is wrong my friend will tell me. They can and I will not be offended because I know they have my best interest at heart. They are not “yes men” just telling me what I want to hear but true friends tell it like it is in a loving, non-judging way. I know when the occasion arises and I have to talk to my friends about something in their life that may not be right it is not an easy thing (it should never be) but I do it out of love.
I thing of my friend Anthony, our friendship was born out of a common difficulty (we were both working at a shelter) and two more different people you could never imagine but we know each other very well and can tell each other anything (and know it will never go any further **very important**) he is (or more correctly was) a gansta type and I am suburban middle class America but we share a common spirit (Holy Spirit that is, more on that in another post) but he can tell me things nobody else can, and visa versa.
He recently asked me about my diabetes to make sure I was taking care of myself; he had seen a man in a wheelchair on the street with no feet. (FYI I do watch my sugar and take insulin and that is nothing to fool around with) and I occasionally remind him about the importance of church and that he needs to be involved (preferably Baptist, but that is another story) and he does not mind I am just concerned about him. So we have a mutual relationship of give and take (and all healthy relationships do, if you are doing all the giving or all the taking there is a problem). Just something to think about.