A Friend Indeed…
Everybody needs friends. It’s one of those facts of life you come to appreciate as you age and with that age comes varying degrees of handling friendships. One of the many ways in which I have seen a lot people (Christians and non-Christians alike) speak of friendships is in terms of the types of friendships they keep (it always sounds like the same way people speak of the five languages of love, for example). Many theories abound and there are quotes by the page-load for the avid collector (or retweeter) that can be found online regarding how you should treat friends and where they should stand.
One of the more commonly quoted ones are the ones that talk about season, reason and lifetime friends (some are friends for a season, others for a reason, some for your entire life – in case it didn’t make sense). I’ve always considered where this type of thinking came from. The general idea, for those who are unfamiliar is that seasonal friends are not to be kept for a lifetime, reasoned friendships are not to be extended beyond their purpose and lifetime friends should be properly identified so they don’t end up like the other two.
Who woke up one morning, examined their relationships and then determined that those who were in their lives fall into such categories?
For the sake of the English language, we’ll need to be pretty clear about the fact that we’re talking about friendships not acquaintances or colleagues or any other form of regularly built relationships with others.
Or, as Dictionary.com puts it:
“a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.”
So, let’s examine this from a Biblical perspective since that’s the litmus test for such things. What do we know about friendships from The Bible?
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17
“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”” – 1Corinthians 15:33
If we consider the likes of Jonathan and David (see 1Samuel 18:1-3), Elijah and Elisha (2Kings 2:2) and Ruth 1:16-17 we can see what constitutes biblical friendships. The overriding theme in all of these examples is a deeply imbedded love that causes a clinging to one another (Jonathan loved David “as his own soul”, Ruth loved Naomi enough to change religion and leave her life behind, Elisha loved Elijah enough to not leave him when he requested it).
If these are the biblical (Godly) examples of friendship then what are we to call these so called seasonal and reasoned people because they clearly are not friends and they never were to begin with. The onus is on us to determine who these people are in our lives and be cautious with the allocation of the word “friend”. We must recognise that our friends are the people that will teach us their ways and we will learn from (Proverbs 13:20; 22:24-25) – the people we seek & receive counsel from.
Let’s take a look at a case study – Abraham:
(2Chronicles 20:7, Isaiah 41:8 & James 2:23) – they tell us that’s it’s possible to be known as God‘s friend. This was the status that God bestowed upon Abraham because he showed himself righteous in seeking and receiving God‘s counsel consistently. It should also show us that the status of friendship is something that we shouldn’t take lightly. How else can we explain the type of relationship that allows a man to reason with God on a judgement that He wants to execute (Genesis 18:16-33)? How else do we expect to be able to reason with God (Isaiah 1:18) if we are not His friends?
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:12-15
If we are told that the ultimate display of friendship is the love (notice that running theme?) that enables one to lay down their life for another – the same way that Christ did for us, then imagine you called on God in a time of need, no matter how trivial, and His response was that He considered you a seasonal friend so He’s moved on? How would you feel?
If you happen to have “friends” that were there for a reason or season, I would question your definition and selection of these so-called friends. I would ask if you’ve applied Proverbs 27:17. I would ask how many of these friends you would demonstrate the extent of love necessary to lay your life down for them.
I understand that this cliché is normally reflective in use but many are in danger of using this to define their existing friendships to determine who falls where. That, in my opinion, is dangerous. On the underneath, this echoes of the consumerism that is typical of Western society. To seek to classify and place values on everything – something as precious as friendship shouldn’t be eroded to such arbitrary terms. There are many things that we need defend from the subtle perversions of The World, Friendship is one of them.
God bless you.
Remember, God is rooting for you and waiting to help you – He wants you to win!!