“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24
I recently discovered that in most of my friendships I’m a convenience friend. You know, kind of like a convenience store. You go in and get what you need and leave. It sounds harsh I know, but what I’ve seen lately in my own life is that many friendships operate the same way.
These friends show up when they need something. They include me if it benefits them. Once my presence or help is no longer convenient, they’re nowhere to be found. It’s not that they’re mean-spirited or hate me. I just don’t think our world knows how to have deep, meaningful friendships anymore. We’re such a consumeristic society that our relationships are following suit.
What many people have, including some myself, aren’t actual friends, but rather companions. These are people that don’t REALLY know you. They know basics about your life, but aren’t really invested. You might hang out with them from time to time, but the relationship is overall shallow.
What I’m finding is that the intimate friendship mentioned in Proverbs 18:24 is rare. These friendships transcend even family relationships. They act more like family than family acts like family. I want to know this type of friendship more.
The friendships that we all long for are the complete opposite of companions. We long to have the relationships that are deeply connected. We want to be known. We want to have people in our lives that cry with us in our sorrows, celebrate with us in our victories, and that push us to be more like Christ.
I NEED depth in my relationships. I need more than just hanging out. I need more than just surface conversation. I want friends that are willing to speak hard truths even at the risk of the friendship. I want friends that gather together routinely to dig into the Word, give their full attention when together, and are present in my daily life and struggles.
The friendship I’m describing can really only be fully found when Jesus is at the center of our lives and relationships. You see, Jesus is the friend that sticks closer than a brother. Jesus risked it all for us. He had our best interest in mind when He gave up His life. He is always present and can always be counted on in our daily life and struggles.
I need friends who are like Jesus, but I also, need to be a friend like Jesus. Friendships will fail if they are one-sided. As much as I want deep friendships, it starts with me. I have to be willing to be a Proverbs 18:24 friend.
The only way I can be that type of friend is if Jesus is driving the relationship. I must be built and rooted in Christ. I must first have a vertical relationship with Christ in order to have any deep horizontal relationships. Our friendship with Christ is the foundation in which true friendship is cultivated.
Taking a step back and evaluating my deeper friendships, I see reoccurring themes that are reflective of Christ. First, we show ourselves to be friendly to one another. If you’re a curmudgeon don’t expect to have many deep friendships. Are you an attractive option for someone looking for a friend? If not, don’t expect people to come knocking down your door.
When I think of attractive friends, I think of David and Jonathan. Both we’re courageous. Both were capable young warriors. Both had a profound faith in the Lord. It’s no wonder that their souls were knit together. They had much in common!
Second, we look out for the good of each other. Are you a friend that looks out for the best interest of others? If that’s the relationship you want, you must be invested in the well-being of others. Philippians 2:4 commands us to look out for others. It says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” You can’t expect to receive what you’re not willing to give.
In his article Find a Friend to Wound You Greg Morse said, “Safe friends are dangerous to our sin. Your soul needs friends who are willing to risk wounding your pride in the moment for the long-term good of your soul.” Speaking hard truths and inserting yourself into a potentially messy situation is a must for intimate friendships because it’s rooted in the good of others.
A third thing I see is consistency. We can count on one another. No relationship can survive if there isn’t commitment. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.“ Deep friendships are forged through the struggles in life. To have or be a friend who sticks closer than a brother, tough times need to be persevered through together.
Fourth, we express our love in word and deed. In the intimate friendships I have, there is no doubt of the love we have for each other. We communicate it verbally, but it doesn’t just end there. People need to see that you love them. True friendships are built through action – they’re productive. They fight for each other, serve each other, and challenge each other.
It might take work and a little touch of God’s providence, but I’m convinced that everyone can have at least one deep (if not more), intimate, and strong friendship aside from their friendship with Christ. We need them. We should strive to have them. And if you do have friendships like the one in Proverbs 18:24, cherish it.