True Friend

Proverbs 18:24; 17:17; 17:9; 27:17 (New Living Translation)
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. … A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. … Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. … As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

When I was in college, I had a poster with snippets from Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I have no idea where that poster has gone (those college years have quickly receded into the distant past), but the gist of it has stuck with me.

“Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Avoid negative people.”

Those words from Fulghum are all proverbs: “a pithy saying, especially one condensing the wisdom of experience” (Webster’s Dictionary). The scriptures we’ve been looking at over the last few days from the biblical book of Proverbs are just that: pithy, short-sweet-and-to-the-point bits of wise advice.

Today’s string of proverbs is about friendship. In Genesis 1:26, we’re told that we were formed in the image of God. Community an intrinsic part of God’s nature: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because we are made in God’s image, we naturally long for authentic relationships in our lives. The proverbs for today remind us that choosing our closest friends is an important decision. A true friend is someone who will stick by you, even when — and especially when — times are tough. Someone who will tell you the truth with compassion, who will forgive you when you inevitably mess up, and who will consistently encourage you to grow and improve.

When you find that friend, hold on. And be a true friend to that person, as well.

Who is the friend you know you can count on — no matter what is going on in your life?

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