For most of us, having at least one true friend that we can always rely on is as valuable as gold. Such a true friend is also rare. Many of us have friends, but not many true friends. It takes time, patience, trust, and loyalty to develop solid and lasting friendships. I believe the Bible offers us advice on everything in life, including how to be a true friend. For example, the Bible teaches the following eight verses about friends.
1. A true friend knows how to give constructive criticism
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:6)
Would you rather have a true friend tell you the truth in a loving, sincere, and honest way, or would you prefer an enemy to tell you lies just to flatter you? I think most of us would agree that it is better to have a friend who knows how to tell us the truth in a kind way. A true friend will always have your best interest at heart, whereas an enemy seeks their own selfish gain.
This verse doesn’t mean that it is okay to hurt our friend’s feelings just for the sake of being truthful. While it is important to be honest with our friends, we need to take care how we say it so as to lessen any pain it brings as much as possible.
2. A true friend knows how to give and receive helpful advice
“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)
Close friends that have been friends long enough often know each other’s personal situations and circumstances. They also know each other’s personalities well enough to know how to give advice. For some, being frank and blunt is acceptable, while others require you to speak more sensitively. A true friend will want what is best for his/her friend, and will offer helpful advice in a way that they know will be acceptable. Likewise, a good friend will recognize and appreciate this advice and allow it to enrich their lives.
Proverbs 27:9 says it like this: “Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.
Just like perfume makes us smell good and feel good about ourselves, so a true friend’s wise advice should make us feel better about ourselves and our circumstances.
3. A true friend is always there in time of need
“Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend.” (Proverbs 27:10)
We all want at least one true friend that we know we can count on to be there in times of need. This also means being there when one of their family members is also going through a difficult situation.
4. A true friend is there through the thick and thin
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
The characteristic of a true friend is that he/she remains your friend through thick and thin, through the good and bad times. They remain your friend even when you have a falling out, or a disagreement. A friend stays your friend even when you disappoint them because we all disappoint one another every now and then. True friends know how to laugh and cry together.
5. A good friend respects your needs before their wishes
“He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it will be counted a curse to him.” (Proverbs 27:14)
It takes a good friend to know when to let you have your morning coffee before they start bombarding you with news of their problems or even exciting news.
6. A true friend loves you for you and not your money
“The poor man is hated even by his own neighbor, but the rich has many friends.” (Proverbs 14:20)
It is sad but true that rich people draw many friends, but they are not all true friends. A true friend loves you whether you have money or not. What’s more, we should never refuse a person’s friendship because they are poor because we may just be missing out on one of the best friends we ever had.
I have heard it said that your friends only come around when you have money. Again, these are not true friends. These are what some call “fair weather friends.”
A true friend cares more about what they can do for another rather than what they can get from someone else.
Two more Bible verses that teach along these same lines are:
“Wealth adds many friends, but a poor is separated from his friend.” (Proverbs 19:4)
“Many will entreat the favor of the nobility, and every man is a friend to one who gives gifts.” (Proverbs 19:6)
8. If you want a true friend, you must first be one
“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
Any of us can talk and behave friendly toward others, but that is not what makes you a true friend. If you long to have a true friend in your life that you can always count on, you must show yourself trustworthy and dependable first to others.
Examples of true friends in the Bible:
–We can also read in the Bible of people who demonstrated true friendship. These include people like Jonathan and David. They were such dedicated friends that they vowed to not only take care of each other but their descendants as well.
–Other good friends in the Bible are Ruth and Naomi. They were mother and daughter-in-law, but Ruth showed herself a true friend to Naomi when she stayed by her side, leaving her family to go to another country and live. Ruth even worked in the fields to earn food to take back to Naomi.
–Elijah and Elisha were close friends. Elisha stayed faithfully by Elijah’s side even during trying times, and learned to be a wise prophet like him. (II Kings 2:1-14)
–Timothy was such a true friend to the apostle Paul, that Paul called him a “beloved son.” Timothy was a loyal companion to Paul, accepted his advice, and learned to become a good teacher himself because of it. (II Timothy 1:2; Acts 16:1-3; the letters of I and II Timothy)
–Abraham was called God’s friend because he believed in Him and obeyed Him. (Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23)
–Jesus says we are His friends if we keep His commandments. (John 15:14)