Faith to flourish: The face of friendship

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Author: Angelique Geeringh

In Proverbs 18:24 (NIV) we read about what a true friend should be:

‘One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,

but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.’

The ESV translates the first line of the proverb this way: ‘A man of many companions may come to ruin.’ In any translation, the emphasis is on the plurality of friends. A person with many friends may still run into problems.

A large number of friends does not equal help in a time of need. Many popular celebrities have faced this dilemma. They may have thousands of fans, but fame is fickle, and most fans quickly disappear during difficult times. Social media promotes many superficial connections who are called ‘friends’, but few of these are true friends. Even the most connected can be lonely.

In contrast, the second line of this proverb tells us, ‘There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother’. The concept of friendship is a strong one in Proverbs, and the word friend is used nine other times in the book.

  • Wisdom is called a friend (7:4)
  • A friend loves at all times (17:17)
  • A poor man is deserted by his friend (19:4)
  • Everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts (19:6)
  • A person with gracious speech has the king as his friend (22:11)
  • Faithful are the wounds of a friend (27:6)
  • The sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel (27:9)
  • Do not forsake your friend and father’s friend (27:10).

    From these verses, we see there are two kinds of ‘friends’. There is the friend who exists because you have something to offer (such as a material gift or popularity-by-association), and there is a friend who exists because of  genuine love and friendship.  You can amass as many friends of the first type as you want and still come to ruin. However, even one friend of the second type is a great advantage.

    As a blood-bought child of God, we need to be that genuine, authentic friend that is someone who sticks closer than a brother. In other words, you can be counted on. Brotherhood is one of the strongest relationships we know. A friend who sticks closer than a brother is a trustworthy friend, indeed.

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