By Jimmy Tuten
Someone has said that there are three friendships which are advantageous and three that are injurious: friendship with the upright, friendship with the man of much observation and friendship with the man who is courteous. These are advantageous. However, friendship with the man of specious airs, or one who is insinuatingly soft, and friendship with the glib-tongued, these are injurious.
No hurt is greater than that hurt derived from deception and abuse of one thought to be a friend. A friend is someone to have in time of need and when adversity tries them. A bold foe may prove a curse, but a pretended friend is worse by far. There is an English proverb that says: “God save me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies.” The irony of this is that there is some merit to it as far as some friends are concerned. Friendship must not be taken too lightly. Also we should be cautious in choosing friends, and even more cautious in changing them. Of course, the best recipe for making friends is to be one yourself.
“I often find myself,” said Thackery Ritchie, “going back to Darwin’s saying about the duration of a man’s friendship being one of the best measures of his worth.” The reckless handling of friendship is a true mark of a foolish man who will never know what true friendship is. No friendship should begin that has no intent of being lasting in nature. No one is more dangerous than a friend who isn’t quite sure whether he’s for you or against you.
I am thankful for my friends. They have been a source of great strength in time of need and I am glad that I made them friends before I needed them. Experience teaches us that a real friend warms you by his presence, trusts you with his secrets and remembers you in his prayers. He is one who is there to care!
Why Some Friendships Fail
Friendship has a price tag on it and some are not willing to pay the fee. To be a true friend one must be willing to do so under trying circumstances as well as in the good times. “A friend loveth at all times,” said Solomon (Prov. 17:17). A friend is closer than a brother, as affectionate and trusty as one connected by the closest ties of relationship (Prov. 18:24). The Greeks had a saying that went like this: “the crisis tests a friend as fire the gold. ” What are some of the costs of friendship that some are not willing to pay?
(1) The Cost of Time. True friendship is a life-long experience. It is never temporary. This is why faith in friendship is so rare. Truly we have made the word “friend” common and robbed it of its depth of beauty. We need more friends who will joyfully sing with you when you are on the mountain top and silently walk beside you through the valley. But this takes time and some friendships cannot tolerate the wear and tear that constant use sometimes give it. One must be more deliberate in friendship knowing that it is not the promises of friendship that are lasting but the performance of it.
(2) The Cost of Need. It is cruel and harsh to be a pretended friend until the time of need. But need is a sure proof of friendship or often the proof of the shallowness thereof. Siracides said: “A friend cannot be known in prosperity; and an enemy cannot be hidden in adversity. In the prosperity of a man enemies will be grieved; but in his adversity even a friend will depart.” How demonstratable is this when one considers the lamentable cry of Job in his great misery: “All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me” (Job 19:19).
(3) The Cost of Abuse. Friendships are abused. For example, a good friend is one who can tell you all his problems, but doesn’t.
The problem is often the result of a failure to observe that all men have their frailties and all have feet of clay. If one looks for friends without imperfections, then he will have no friends. It is sad to see insult added to injury in the area of human imperfection. One’s failure to understand a particular problem is not necessarily an expression of a lack of appreciation. A friend is one who will allow the leverage of one’s imperfections to express itself, and love him at the same time. I think Thomas Jefferson said it well when he said, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion or philosophy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend.” One does not have to agree on all points to be a friend. Never injure a friend, not even in jest. Folks who are friends are usually people who have the same virtues, the same enemies, or the same faults.
(4) The Cost of No Profit Or Gain. Some will be friends if there is personal gain involved. “You pat my back and I’ll pat yours” seems to be the motive involved all too often. But a friend that must be bought is not worth what we pay for him. If we can buy such a person, someone else can too. Friendship is to be valued for what there is in it, not what can be gotten out of it. To seek friendship for personal gain is as futile as seeking the end of a rainbow for the bag of gold. Too many are looking upon friends as a mutual benefit association with periodical demands and threats of suspension for non-payment. This should not be. Let us think not of what friends can do for us, but what we can do for them.
How sad to see friendship thrown away in a world where friendship is so rare. In times like these we need the comfort of friends. Whatever the gain, it is never so much that we can afford to lose a friend. Wise is the man who fortifies his life with friendships. To have the joy of friendship one must share friendliness. Happiness was born a twin.
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 22, pp. 692-693
November 15, 1984