The word friend has become so complex. What does it actually mean? In today’s culture we have work friends we only want to see at work, school friends we only see at school functions, facebook friends we only want to spy on online, and frenemies, those we socially have to pretend to like. Some people have hundreds of “friends” while others struggle to find a single person they call “friend.” Essentially, the word has lost all meaning by meaning so many different things.
When I think of the word “friend,” I find the Bible helpful to recalibrate what it has meant in its historic meaning. Here are a few verses which paint a clear picture for the meaning of the word:
- John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 – “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.”
- Proverbs 18:24 – “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Do you see the depth of connection the Bible speaks of when referring to a friend: laying down your life, helping them when they fall, sticking closer than a brother. The best example of this type of friendship in the Bible is David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 20). Jonathan is the heir apparent to the king, his father Saul. But he knows that God has called his friend David to be the next king. At times, Jonathan has opportunity to help his father kill David, but he instead puts his own life in danger and protects David. He picks David up while he is down and stays at his side through all sorts of adversity. While we never read of David’s brothers helping him while Saul is trying to kill him, we do read of Jonathan sticking closer than his brothers.
That’s the kind of friends I want around me. Yes, I may not have dozens of friends I can say that about, but I do need some. I will fall, I will need help, and I will need a friend to be there for me. And so do you.