Friendship is not using someone to get what you want. If you only hear from somebody when they want something, they are an acquaintance, not a friend. Genuine friendship is not mutual encouragement to do the wrong thing. It is not promoting co-dependence or any other unhealthy behavior. The Bible speaks about friendship in the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs 27:6, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” A friend will tell you the truth and confront you even if it hurts, because he or she wants what is ultimately best for you. I have a few friends who will tell me when they think I am wrong and they are very valuable to me. When you don’t share your concerns about someone’s direction because of fear of offending them you aren’t being a friend. A few years ago someone told me that her friend was making a terrible mistake by marrying this certain man. I asked her if she had expressed her concern to her friend. She said she hadn’t because she did not want to hurt their friendship or her feelings. Unfortunately, her friend went through a messy divorce after a short disastrous marriage.
Proverbs 17:9, “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” A friend loves and accepts you and does not gossip about your private matters. The thoughts and feedback from people who love you are very helpful. The ability to feel completely secure in a relationship is a marvelous gift to give and to receive.
Proverbs 18:24, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” The first part of this verse describes the danger of too many indiscriminate relationships. The second part describes the value of a true friend. When my father passed away I made several trips in the following months to Portland to settle his affairs. The presence of an old friend at key moments made a difficult job a little easier.
A number of years ago I attended my niece’s high school graduation party. She had a book for people to write notes to her as she faces adult life and starting college.
In her book I wrote, “A true friend is someone who wants what is best for you. Seek to have those kinds of friends and seek to be that kind of friend to other people.”