Marks Of True Friendship

Marks Of True Friendship

Henry Adams wrote, “One friend in a lifetime is much, two are many, and three are hardly possible.” While I do not share his pessimism or cynicism, I do believe that true, close friends are certainly not prevalent. There are too many factors at play. Friendships take time, trust, and transparency. Some things can be barriers to developing close companionship from contrasting values to clashing viewpoints.

The Bible gives insight into factors essential to building true, lasting friendships. Since God made man, He knows what makes us tick and operate at our optimism levels. Here are four quick principles:

A Friend Loves At All Times (Proverbs 17:17).

Solomon does not suggest blind loyalty or blanket endorsement. Scripture does not encourage fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11), but it also points out that we all struggle with sin problems (Rom. 3:23). We also are prone to weak moments and we go through trials and reverses of fortune. It is a blessing to know we have people we can count on to be there even when we’re not at our best or enjoying our mountaintop moments (Heb. 12:12-13; Rom. 12:15).

For The Despairing Man, There Should Be Kindness From His Friend (Job 6:14).

For every one we exchange superficial greetings with, even as we are carrying our hidden cares, we need true friends to turn to for help when we face deep needs in our hours of trial. Rare is the friend who knows, sympathizes, and is ready to help with a kind word or deed. You can imagine how Job’s friends added to his despair by failing to offer that when he needed it most. So many things bring despair–job loss, family crisis, financial reverse, health issues, and other life changes. It is then that astute acts of kindness make a lasting impact and forge true friendships.

If They Fall, One Will Lift Up His Fellow (Ecc. 4:10).

Solomon does not specify whether the falling is physical, emotional, or spiritual. No matter what makes us fall, it is the trustworthy response of a friend that he focuses on. How tragic not to have someone in our lives with a ready hand when we are sinking! What if we are falling away from God (Jas. 5:19-20)? What if we are losing faith or overwhelmed (Mat. 14:30)? “The Lord sustains all who fall” (Ps. 145:14), and what a blessing when He does so through a faithful friend!

Faithful Are The Wounds Of A Friend (Prov. 27:6).

We need people in our lives who are more than “yes” men and women. True friends care enough to correct if we are going off course. We need those who don’t just rubber stamp our speech, validate our every action, or automatically take our side. None of that helps us refine our character or makes us fit for the Master’s use. It’s not easy to tell someone we like and care about that they’ve fallen short in some way, but having a friend that deep and genuine is a true blessing in life.

These passages challenge me to ask, “What kind of friend am I to others?” Am I deeper than a fellow sport’s fan, a person with common interests, or even a co-member of the church? Can I be counted on to be there in the valleys as well as the mountaintop days? Can I be trusted with kindness on despairing days? Am I a lifter? Do I have the courage even to say the difficult things in difficult moments? I want to be that kind of friend to my friends!

Some of our dearest friends, whom we were blessed to see this past weekend.
My God Is So Big

My God Is So Big

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

My problems are so big, my worries so mighty, there’s nothing my anxieties can’t do. Wait, that’s not how that song goes. It’s been said that the there are more stars in the known universe than all of the sand on earth combined. That being said, in just one grain of sand there are more atoms than all of the stars. That’s pretty amazing. Our planet is but a speck in the grandeur of space. Countless stars, planets, galaxies, lightyears and somehow God is well aware of the happenings of people.

Have you stood on the mountain tops? Have you observed the power of the oceans as the waves crash on the shore? Has your heart almost stopped after the vibrating sensation of a thunder clap resinates in your chest? The might of the Creator is everywhere in the world around us and at times it just demands to be noticed.

1 Kings 19:11-13 is a section of scripture that is mysterious and fascinating. The Lord of hosts is about to show Himself to a depressed and exhausted Elijah, but in a way that he would never forget. “The Lord said, ‘go out on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out to stand at the mouth of the cave. Then the voice said, ‘what are you doing here Elijah?’” In the hush of Horeb, Elijah seeks to avoid the troubles of his world. The acoustics of the mountainous area along with the time spent in silence must have made the shattering rocks, raging fire, splitting hills, and rumbling earth all but deafening and definitely a terrifying display of divine power. Then in sharp contrast, a still whisper comes. This gentleness, no doubt, is the reason Elijah decides to cautiously emerge from his hiding place. God is teaching His worn-out servant a lesson that holds true for us today.

The fact is, there is no more God, His wisdom, power, and presence in an earthquake than there is in the sweet breath of a blooming flower. The quiet ticking of a wrist watch reveals just as much intelligence and purpose as does the striking of a clock tower’s bell. One may walk out into an open field at night and stare up into the vast sky, lit up with numerous twinkling stars and declare, “I’ve found God!” But God is no more in the sky than He is in the blades of grass flattened beneath your feet. The question came to Elijah from that still voice, “What are you doing here?” To the prophet, his problems were too great and too large and his solution was to run and hide. God, in a magnificent way, is trying to remind Elijah of his place. Our place in life is not to take matters into our own hands or solve life’s many difficulties on our own. The answer is not to run away, but to walk humbly with our awesome God. He is strong enough to lift our burdens, wise enough to counsel us, patient enough to allow us to learn, and loving enough to constantly forgive. My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do— for you, too. 

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A view from Mt. Carmel (Israel)