“Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?”
Talk is cheap. Many people claim to be a faithful friend, but over time, and in the crucible of life’s difficulties and challenges, the friendship fades. It wasn’t authentic; it was a pseudo-friendship.
Adversity is a crucible that tests us and refines a relationship. The time of need is the test of friendship. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17.17)
When trouble comes, and it will surely come, you want a real friend to stand with you, one that loves at all times and considers your problems to be their own. You want a friend who will stand with you no matter the cost or difficulty. A cultivated friendship based on character, conviction, truth, and wisdom will far surpass the expected help of a natural brother that is only connected to you by blood and name.
Proverbs 18:24 also speaks to this, and it makes the distinction between real friends and mere companions: “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” It’s one thing to have companions and buddies, it’s another thing to have true friends. A real friend is someone who loves, serves, and supports during the toughest circumstances of life.
What is most attention-getting about what Proverbs teaches regarding relationships is that you can have many companions but nevertheless “come to ruin.” That is because a companion is not the same as a true friend. Solomon tells us what makes a true friend different from a mere companion: a true friend “sticks closer than a brother.” When disaster strikes, a “companion” is likely to abandon you. Not so a friend.
Deep friendships don’t just happen. They are built over time, and they are the result of hard work. Most importantly, they are built in the midst of challenging and difficult situations. You don’t really know the strength of a relationship until it has been tested in the crucible of adversity.
“Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.” (Proverbs 27.10)
As important as family is, there are times when a close friendship is even more powerful. A small group of committed, intimate friends can be more important than the natural relationship of family.
We are in serious need of relational commitment and discipline in our society. This is true in organizations, families, and the Christian community. In order to successfully navigate the challenges we face in the years ahead, we must operate from a foundation of deep commitment, effective communication, and uncommon collaboration.
Trust God, do the work, and be a faithful friend.