The Sweetness of Friendship
THE SWEETNESS OF FRIENDSHIP
“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel” (Proverbs 27:9).
Few of life’s blessings are sweeter than close friends. Kathy and I have been blessed with many such friends. Some of them have been our dear friends for most of our lives, beginning from the early years when we were starting to build our families. Our children played and grew up together. We worshipped together. We worked at camp together. We have vacationed together. We have laughed together and we have also cried together. As friends, we have provided a helping hand when help was needed. We have shared each other’s disappointments and we have celebrated each other’s successes. Through the years, we have stayed close, in spite of sometimes being separated by great distance. Now that we are older, we cherish more than ever the times when we get to spend time with our friends. Old friends are the best friends.
Friendship is based on honesty, trust, unselfishness, and loyalty. Friends know they can confide in one another. Our friends are those whom we know we can depend on.
The sweetness of a friend who gives good counsel is compared to the way oil and perfume bring gladness to the heart. True friends always tell you the truth, even when the truth hurts. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend….” (Prov. 27:6).
Friends help each other grow and become better in mind and character. “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17). Good friends tend to rub off on each other. This why choosing your friends carefully is so important (1 Cor. 15:33). Young people should make friends with those who have strong moral and spiritual values, and whose influence will make you a better person.
Friends help each other in other ways as well. Sometimes it’s just knowing that your friend is there to help you carry those loads that are especially heavy. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil” (Eccles. 4:9).
Friends always have your back. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17). Both friends and family are needed for support and encouragement, especially in hard times. In times of trouble, you know who your real friends are. They stand by you. “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24). True friends “stick” with you through thick and thin. The same word is used to describe how Ruth “clung” to her mother-in-law Naomi (Ruth 1:14). The bond in such friendship is as strong as kinship. Friends like these are family.
The sweetest, most enduring friendships are those where spiritual values are shared and embraced. Our best friends will always be those with a like precious faith. Our dear friends are especially dear to us because we are all part of God’s family.
Jesus has called us 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).