What Is Friendship?

Reading Tim and Kathy Keller’s book, The Meaning of Marriage, is proving to be quite a blessing. This morning, while reading the chapter on the mission of marriage, I was encouraged by the following paragraph which speaks to the character of friendship—in general—before describing it further and applying it more deeply to marriage. Keller asks the question, “What is friendship?” and then answers with this description of its character.

The Bible, and particularly the book of Proverbs, spends much time describing and defining it. One of the prime qualities of a friend is constancy. Friends “love at all times” and especially during “adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). The counterfeit is a “fair-weather friend” who comes over when you are successful but goes away if prosperity, status, or influence wanes (Proverbs 14:20; 19:4, 6, 7). True friends stick closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). They are always there for you. Another of the essential characteristics of friendship is transparency and candor. Real friends encourage and affectionately affirm one another (Proverbs 27:9; cf. 1 Samuel 23:16-18), yet real friends also offer bracing critiques: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:5-6). Like a surgeon, friends cut you in order to heal you. Friends become wiser together through a healthy class of viewpoints. “As iron sharpens iron, so friend sharpens friend” (Proverbs 27:17).

Do you have at least one friend who fits this description? If so, thank the Lord for him or her and let them know how much they mean to you. If not, become this kind of person and pray the Lord leads you to someone who needs you.

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