Do you consider yourself someone who has many friends? Are you sure that each person you call a friend, truly is one? Over the years, I’ve been hurt by people whom I thought were friends. The betrayal cut deeply until I took a hard look at our relationships and realized we weren’t friends at all. We shared some fun times and perhaps had feelings for the other’s well being, but we were really just good acquaintances.
17:17a – A friend loves at all times,
Let’s look at the first phrase of verse 17. A friend loves. If you ever conduct a study on love, you’ll discover that it is not an emotional feeling although it can certainly generate a lot of them in various strengths and types. Love is what I call an action noun; something that requires doing. The best word I can use to describe it is commitment. When you love someone, you are committed to their complete well being. You want only what is best for them regardless of consequences or reciprocation. That is the action of a real friend.
And when does a friend love? At all times, regardless of location, situation, or consequence. We’ve all heard of fair weather friends, those who only appear when things are going well. Do you have people you know you could call for help when you are in deep and desperate need? But what about foul weather friends, those who only seemed concerned with fixing some great problem? What if you just need someone to listen to a minor concern? True friends aren’t concerned with the size of the need or the possible repercussions from helping. They just do what needs doing.
17:17b – And a brother is born for adversity.
A quick note on biblical syntax; some proverbs are antithetical and some are parallel. That’s just a fancy way of saying some are opposites and some mean something similar. Verse 17 is one of the latter. The second part emphasizes the first.
Another proverb states that it is better to have a friend close by than a brother far away. A true friend can show the same love and concern and be like a close family member. Perhaps you’ve known a good friend who’s always filled in when your family couldn’t. Or maybe you have a friend that is so close, you consider them related. In those cases, they become not only your friend, but a friend to your entire family.
God provides for us when needs arise, and sometimes He uses others as instruments of His provision. How wonderful it is when He brings a friend alongside just when we need them. Whether the situation is adversity or rejoicing, friends are reflections of His love. What a blessing to have a friend, whatever the circumstance.
If you’re fortunate to have true friends, let them know how much you appreciate them. And make sure you’re their true friend as well.