By Douglas Culpepper
Has someone you cared about ever been doing something you knew would have bad results? Did you do anything about it? Our world is geared toward uniformity—fit in with the crowd at all costs. According to society, “interfering” with what someone wants to do means you are not a friend, even if what they’re doing is detrimental to his or her well-being. Thinking that we should let a friend do whatever they want because “it’s their decision” is not in line with God’s thinking. A true friend will let his friend know his concern for the friend’s well-being, no matter what others may think.
A true friend is aware when a friend is doing something that may harm him, and he helps his friend avoid it—not allowing him to blindly fall into it. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). The Aramaic Bible actually translates that first part as, “there are friends who are (just) ‘friends.’” Friends is in quotes to symbolize a very loose use of the word. It would better be translated acquaintances. A further study in the Hebrew reveals that it means, “there are acquaintances that will destroy you, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Are your friends really friends? Are you a true friend?
Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Wouldn’t it be better to have a friend tell you that something was wrong or needed to be changed, than a “friend” more concerned with fitting in than having your welfare as his main concern? It can be easy to not want someone to bring up concerns because they are “ruining your plans.” A true friend looks after his friend’s overall well-being, not just the then-and-there.
A true friend must be willing to give guidance (when appropriate) and also to take guidance. Many times it is easy to tell others your opinion but to completely brush people aside when they have an opinion. “In a multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). Bringing someone else into a situation can really help. Sometimes, especially when we are personally invested, the solution can be right in front of us without us even seeing it. Not being directly involved can allow better insight at times, which is when we need those true friends.
We have to be careful who we tell and what we tell, especially personal things. God gave us the ministry for counsel; don’t hesitate to seek that counsel. That extra opinion, that extra set of eyes, that guidance can sometimes save us from learning from the school of hard knocks.
A true friend must be willing to stand up for what is right, even when it means taking ridicule from your peers. It could even save someone’s life—physically or spiritually. It is easier to let things slip, act like nothing happened, or that you didn’t know. But situations are much easier to deal with in the early stages than after they have fully developed. We should not be the proverbial “tattletale,” but we also should not think twice about getting someone help if it could save their life.
Make God your best friend. Ask Him how to be a true friend. Stand up for God and your friends. Being the “bad guy” isn’t pleasant, but if you stand up for God, He will stand up for you! Don’t be an acquaintance, be a true friend!