My best friend has been in my life for over forty years. Although we don’t speak to each other every day I know that I can call her anytime of any day and she will respond. She doesn’t always agree with me or say what I want to hear, but she is a voice of wisdom and comfort every time. I refer to her as my Jonathan, because I believe we have a David and Jonathan relationship. The Bible records this unique friendship in 1 Samuel 18:3-4: “Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 4 Jonathan stripped himself of the outer robe that he was wearing and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword, his bow, and his belt”. A covenant is a seal or agreement that should never be broken, especially when made under God. This is the type of relationship I have with my best friend and we have a special bond that will only be broken by death.
There are faces to true friendship and they are revealed in true loved expressed as patient, kind, long-suffering and honest. It is the face of love that when released brings comfort and peace. It is the face of endurance that perseveres through good, bad and even ugly times. It is the face of expectancy that anticipates truth even when that truth may hurt. It is the face of stillness when all hell is breaking loose that says peace be still. It is the face of companionship when you feel alone and in despair. In essence friendship has many faces that when revealed has the power to make unbearable situations more palatable. According to Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion]”. Sometimes the face of friendship has to add salt to the wounds of life to bring healing.
When Job was suffering through his afflictions I believe he counted on the three people he thought were his true friends to come alongside and offer good advice and comfort. However, they proved to be wrong on every count, leaving us wondering if they were true friends or hypocrites in disguise.
There are those who will infiltrate your life on the guise of true friendship, but be careful how you entertain them. Hence, the faces of true friendship also comes with masks that look like the real thing. They impersonate the truth of friendship with words that say I love you, while seeking to stab you in the back when you least expect it. In essence they love only when it is convenient and shift gears when life is inconvenient. However, the Bible says “a friend loves at all times”, (Proverbs 17:17) It also says “The man of too many friends [chosen indiscriminately] will be broken in pieces and come to ruin, but there is a [true, loving] friend who [is reliable and] sticks closer than a brother. And a brother is born for adversity”.
It is important that we choose our friends wisely to the point of discriminating, in an effort to assure we make right decisions. It is sad that often times the craving to be loved hides the true faces of friendship from us. True friendship requires sacrificial love that when bestowed renders us free to reciprocate, thus forming a covenant bond that cannot be broken. The ultimate example is seen in Jesus who was willing to sacrifice to the point of death. John 15:13 declares “No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends”. Therefore, the faces of true friendship must seek to replicate the example of Jesus Christ.