Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.” The Bible says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
Friends are simply there for their friends (Job 2:11,13). After Job lost everything we are told that “when [his] three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place…They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great” (Job 2:11-13). Make no mistake about it—Job’s friends would later suffer a major case of foot-in-mouth disease. They would get into trouble when they assumed they knew more than they did. Then they compounded their error by spouting off what they thought they knew. But at least initially they knew simply this—their friend was hurting and they needed to be there for him. Often being a good friend is just giving a sympathetic ear and not necessarily trying to offer solutions to the problem. Everyone needs someone in whom they can confide.
But today such relationships are becoming more rare. Several studies have shown that the very nature of friendship is changing. The extent of social contact that many people have is internet social networking. But is an increasing lack of personal closeness one of the casualties? You can contact your friends with the push of a button. In a moment you can be integrated with people from all over. But that attention to electronic integration may come at a price—increasing isolation from flesh and blood people. True friendship requires more than the click of the mouse. You have to make an effort. Friendship requires cultivating and contact. It requires mutual love, support and kindness. It requires forgiveness and loyalty. Sometimes it even requires uncomfortable honesty. The Bible says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy…and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel” (Proverbs 27:6,9).
Thank God for the good friends you have. And be a good friend, the real, personal kind that shakes hands and hugs necks, not just one who stares at a computer or “smart” phone.