Do You Have a Friend?

Early in the book of Genesis, God said this about Adam: “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” He was, of course, talking about Eve who was to be the companion of Adam. “Suitable” conveys the idea of “corresponding to.” In short, they needed each other and would be the complement of one another. To me that sounds a lot like friendship, which I believe is one of the key ingredients of a good relationship. Whether you’re married or single, we all need to have a good friend.

I recently made a trip to Michigan where I attended the memorial service of my best friend who I had known since high school. We were roommates in college and had remained close friends over the years. He was a true friend, one who knew everything about me and still loved and accepted me. A true friend may not always tell you what you want to hear, but they will lovingly tell you what you need to hear. A verse in Proverbs puts it this way, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted,” (27:16). A good friend also sharpens you, “as iron sharpens iron,” (Proverbs 27:17). They help you to be all you were meant to be, who God created you to be.

The world in which we live is not conducive to friendship. Social media has caused us to retreat within ourselves. I once heard a person boast of having over 500 friends on Facebook, but I suspect that, in reality, they may not have actually had many true friends at all. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all tend toward shallowness and sharing only the positive things about ourselves, and not our real self.

The COVID virus, with all the isolation, quarantines, wearing of masks and keeping six feet apart from others, didn’t help much either in fostering friendship and relationships. The result has been a “pandemonic of loneliness,” as someone has called it. I read that in Great Britain they now have a “Minister of Loneliness” to help combat this problem that so many people are dealing with. Depression, fear and anxiety seem to being rampant as well, not to mention the huge increase in depression and suicidal tendencies. So what is the answer? I would suggest that, at least in part, it’s having a friend.

Proverbs 18:24 in the New King James Version says this: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” The first part of the verse has been adapted into the saying, “To have a friend, be a friend.” That’s a good principle in and of itself. Yet the verse goes on to say, “But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Jesus has been that kind of a friend to me. 

Philippians 2:3,4 gives a description of that kind of friend. It’s a good foundation for friendship, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” That would be a rather good start toward having and being a friend.

Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2367 or by emailing [email protected]. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors, and guest laypeople, of local churches. 

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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