Written by Rod Mohr
"A friend loves at all times , and a brother is born for adversity." - Proverbs 17:17
We've all had friendships that have come and gone. Sometimes we get very close to people only to end up watching them walk away from us for reasons we don’t understand. These types of friendships remind me of a favorite pair of jeans. They seem to be so very comfortable and we want to wear them (or be in that friendship) all the time but the more we wash and wear those jeans, the more they fade and wear out. The next thing you know, you are feeling the breeze blow down your pant leg because of the huge blowout that has left your backside exposed. Why does this happen and what can we do to prevent it from happening again?
True friendships are rare, at least the kind that Proverbs 17:17 is talking about. People who have a friend in their life that truly knows them and knows what’s deep inside their heart yet they still choose to stand by them, no matter how ugly life gets, are so very blessed. For many people however, when the tough gets going in their life, sadly, so do their friends. Friendships get tested and purified by fire, just as silver and gold do (Proverbs 17:3). God sometimes tests our hearts through trials to remove our impurities. The same thing happens when our friendships are tested. Our challenge is to love others just as Jesus did. If we are not able to love our friends in that same way, those friendships are doomed.
If you tend to notice that many of your friendships don't last, maybe the problem isn't with your friends but rather it lies within your own heart. What kind of friend are you? Do you know the difference between true friendship and just knowing someone well? One of the key ingredients in true friendship is loyalty. If you notice someone is gossiping about your friend or speaking poorly of them, how do you respond? Do you defend your friend or stop the gossip? Do you keep quiet or even worse, fall into the conversation and speak poorly or disrespectful of them?
Loyalty in friendship means loving someone at all times and in all circumstances, whether times are good or bad. True friends will always believe the best about you and never assume anything less. If a friend doesn’t agree with or doesn’t understand something you do or say, they will confront you about it. True friends don't judge each other but rather hold each other accountable to them as well as to God when they err. Fair weather friends aren't true friends and they only seem to come around when they need something from you. If your friendship is more about what you get out of it than what you put into it, you should rethink your motives.
Throughout the Old Testament, God provides us with instruction and a blueprint for how we are to live. The problem has always been that free will thing that sometimes causes us to think that we know more about living life than our own creator does. That kind of "stinking thinking" (thank you Joyce Meyers) is what lead to God's decision to send us a savior. God could have been content to simply send us more instruction on how we're supposed to live but He loves us too much for that. Instead, Jesus was born and he lived 33 years as our sinless, spotless example. His example changed the world forever.
One thing that I have learned along my Christian walk is that a brother really is born for adversity. I may only have one brother from the same birth mother but when I was born again in Christ, my family grew exponentially. My Christian brothers are born for adversity. These are men that I know no matter how bad I mess up, they will still walk beside me because they love me. They are guys that I know I can call on to lift me up when I'm down, I can confess my sins to, and can be held accountable by. And these men also know that I would do the very same thing for any of them, because this is what love calls us to do. We should all strive to be that kind of friend.
Prayer - Father God, I humbly ask that you purify my heart and remove anything that might keep me from loving my friends the way that Jesus teaches me to. I pray that I live each day with the sole purpose of pleasing you and doing only your will, for the life that I live, I no longer live for my own selfish desires. In the mighty name of Jesus, I pray. Amen