A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17
I met him in the 1970s when I was a high school English teacher and basketball coach, and he was a tall, gangly freshman. Soon he was on my basketball team and in my classes—and a friendship was formed. This same friend, who had served with me as a fellow editor for many years, stood before me at my retirement party and shared about the legacy of our longstanding friendship.
What is it about friends connected by the love of God that encourages us and brings us closer to Jesus? The writer of Proverbs understood that friendship has two encouraging components: First, true friends give valuable advice, even if it’s not easy to give or take (27:6): “Wounds from a friend can be trusted,” the writer explains. Second, a friend who is nearby and accessible is important in times of crisis: “Better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away” (v. 10).
It’s not good for us to fly solo in life. As Solomon noted: “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed” (Ecclesiastes 4:9 nlt). In life, we need to have friends and we need to be friends. May God help us “love one another with brotherly affection” (Romans 12:10 esv) and “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2)—becoming the kind of friend that can encourage others and draw them closer to the love of Jesus.
In what sense could you be isolating yourself from others? How can you regularly connect with some strong believers in Jesus to encourage each other?
Dear God, search my heart regarding my friends. Please help me provide Christ-centered counsel to them and receive godly wisdom from them.
The word friend occurs several times in the Bible. In many of the occurrences in the book of Job, Job grieves the behavior of those he once called friends (Job 12:4; 19:14). In the Psalms, David struggles over friends who’ve betrayed him (Psalms 31:11; 38:11; 41:9; 55:12–14; 109:4–5). Proverbs provides helpful words about what friendship is and isn’t. We see two of those references in today’s text (Proverbs 27:6, 10). Further sage advice from Proverbs includes: “the righteous choose their friends carefully” (12:26); “a gossip separates close friends” (16:28); and “do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered” (22:24). Perhaps the best insight is that “a friend loves at all times” (17:17). As Abraham and Moses discovered, our truest and greatest friend is God (Exodus 33:11; James 2:23).