How can we maintain a friendship according to the Bible?
In this world, the only thing permanent is change (thus, the saying goes). Maintaining friendship with anybody entails a lot of guts, patience, and understanding. It is almost impossible to have a permanent friend in human society today. But what is impossible under human standards is possible with God.
When I was in elementary school, I have learned a proverb that says: “Make new friends, but don’t forget the old; for new ones are silver, and the old ones are gold.” Biblically speaking, friends can be part of the inheritance from fathers.
Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbor that is near than a brother far off.
But how can we preserve friendship? We must know whom to befriend and the factors that will destroy the friendship! The God of the Bible defines for us a true friend.
Proverbs 18:24 (RSV)
There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
The closeness of a true friend is enduring.
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
A true friend’s criticism may hurt, but it is a sign of a true friend.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
I have been following these examples set by the Bible regarding friendship. But those who do not understand—when I speak with frankness and truthfulness, with the intention to correct a beloved friend—sometimes, they turn to be bitter enemies. If only people can see the heart, I should have made more friends than enemies. It happened to the Apostles of Christ.
Galatians 4:16-17 (NIV)
16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
17 Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them.
There is a Spanish proverb that says, “El enemigo peor es él que era una vez un amigo” (The worst enemy is he who was once a friend). Beware! Do not make enemies out of friends, but make friends out of enemies.
1 Corinthians 9:20-22
20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
Beware, also, of the words of a talebearer!
A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.
If you want to maintain friendship, apply to yourself the virtues and values of a true friend. Do not expect it from your friend alone, it must be symbiotic. Jesus taught His disciples the greatest friendship attainable among human beings.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
The disciples of Christ applied this friendship among brethren.
3 John 1:4
But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.
Enduring friendship is attainable in the Church of God. Jesus and His disciples are the best of friends anybody can have.
Bro. Eli Soriano