“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. We saw this when we studied Proverbs 17.17: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
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 and serves and supports during the toughest circumstances of life.
What is most attention-getting about what Proverbs teaches about 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 what us 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.
We are in serious need of relational commitment and discipline in our society. This is true in organizations, families, and in 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.
Human relationships are incredibly rich, but they’re also messy and demanding, and we try to “clean them up” with technology. That’s a mistake. The discomfort that is a necessary part of true friendship is a blessing. The comfort that comes with pseudo-connections is deceiving and dangerous. Solomon said it this way in Proverbs 27.6: “Better the wounds of a friend than the kiss of an enemy.”
Everyone wants great relationships, but not everyone gets them. Why is that? Because you don’t get the relationships you want; you get the relationships you build. How people respond to you is largely driven by how you respond to them. If you want to improve any relationship in your life, the place to begin is with yourself.
When it comes to relationships, we often want more than we are willing to work for. Sometimes our desire for quality relationships is greater than our willingness to engage in the hard work necessary to build them. When this happens, our relationships fall short of their potential. Or worse, they become difficult and painful.
When it comes to relationships, be careful of wishing for more than you are willing to work for. The grass is always greener where you water it.
Trust God, do the work, and be a faithful friend.