Sir Godfrey Gregg
Solomon describes what a true friend is like. First, a true friend is loyal.
Proverbs 20:6 Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?
Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
The point here is that your family members are supposed to stick with you. That is kind of their job. A friend is a person who chooses to be loyal. They take the time to know who you really are (warts and all) and do not walk away. A true friend is the one who remains when everyone else disappears.
A true friend is one to whom you can vent and not have the other person think less of you. They understand your heart and what you do (no matter how foolish) does not change what they know to be true. These are the people you could call in the middle of the night and they would come to find you. Your friends are those who rally around you in a time of crisis.
Second, a true friend is someone who will tell you the truth . . . even if it hurts. Listen to how the Proverbs describe this:
Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 24:26 Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.
An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship.
A true friend is not merely someone who flatters you. A true friend is one who is more concerned about your growth than your ego. They want to refine you rather than just flatter you. We all need someone in our lives to whom we can say, “Help me to see what I am blind to in myself. Help me to grow in my relationship with Christ”.
It is true that we can make it in life without anyone. However, we can’t grow as people in isolation. God has designed us to “sharpen each other”.
When iron sharpens iron, it creates friction. When a friend wounds you, it hurts. So, do you see? There is a difference between hurting someone and harming someone. There is a difference between someone being loved and someone feeling loved. Jesus loved everyone well, and some people felt hurt. They were not harmed by him. They were loved by him. But they felt hurt….the truth is, a friend will inevitably hurt you with words that are respectful, true, and blunt. If you will receive it, you will grow in wisdom. Am I talking to someone this morning? All your friends are not “true friends” so take warning.
This is not an invitation to start pointing out the faults of everyone around you. Some people are obnoxious that way. They note every misspoken word and they magnify and spotlight every fault (most of the time a true friend overlooks offences). These people are not friends, they are a pain in the neck! They are around you to see you slip and fall.
A friend is a person who has earned the right to speak to you about things they see in you that are hurting you or the people around you. Two people can say the same hard thing to you. One will provoke an angry response, the other will be received as giving a loving piece of instruction. Why? It is because one person is a friend and they have proved that they care about you. The friend speaks the truth out of love. Lovingly they will
- Note when you are justifying the wrong behaviour
- When you seem to be moving toward a relationship that is inappropriate.
- When you seem to be compromising your faith.
- When you are neglecting your family.
- When you have become obsessed with something and lost perspective.
- When you are spending recklessly.
- When you are thinking about doing something foolish.
This kind of friend is like gold. They are precious and we need to cherish and listen to them. A good friend can help us avoid some real problems in life. May I add here that there is only one in ten thousand?