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Summary: These Proverbs will help teach us to be to others the friend that we desire to have ourselves. When it comes to friends you must first be one to have one. What kind of friend are you?

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PROVERBS 17:17 / 18:24

BECOMING A FRIEND

[John 15:9-17]

Author Henry Durbanville underscored the importance of friends as a means of overcoming the dreaded enemy of loneliness. He included some excellent quotes in his book which are worthy of repeating. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature." A small boy defined a friend as "Someone who knows all about you and likes you just the same." A comrade is described by an old Arab as, "A friend is one to whom we may pour out all the contents of our hearts, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away." Ralph Waldo Emerson also stated "A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere, before whom I may think aloud." Durbanville himself observed that, "A friend is the first person to come in when the whole world goes out."

The dictionary defines friend as "one attached to another by affection, regard, or esteem; an intimate acquaintance." Solomon gave his definition in Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loveth at all times." We can't improve on that definition. To have someone who remains true to us under all circumstances is indeed one of life's choicest blessings. The support and encouragement that only an intimate friend can offer is sorely needed when the burdens and pressures of life weigh heavily upon us.

Our companion text, Proverb 18:24, connects another very important understanding about friendship. It says, "A man who hath friends must prove himself friendly." The thought is that friendliness must begin with us. We are responsible for taking the initiative in developing relationships with others. Friendship is a treasure ship that you first launch.

These Proverbs will help teach us to be to others the friend that we desire to have ourselves (CIM). When it comes to friends you must first be one to have one. What kind of friend are you?

One of the greatest needs of a person is that of friendship. Friendship is a shield in danger, a guide in perplexity, a strength in weakness and a support in sorrow. What sun, air and dew are to seeds, friendship is to us. It energizes, nurtures, develops, and perfects our being. This proverb lead us to notice the consistency and cost of true friendship, which Aristotle described as "composed of one soul in two bodies." Hopefully this is what newlyweds mean when they say, "I have married my best friend."

I. FRIENDSHIP IS CONSTANT AND CONSISTENT

Proverbs 17:17 teaches that a true friend is always without exception or circumstance a friend. "A true friend is always loyal and a brother is born to help in time of need."

Friends must be constant to each at all times, in all circumstances or it isn't true friendship, for constancy in love is an essential element in all genuine friendship. True friendship is based on love because only love will endure the tests that friends experience as they go through life together. It is possible to have many companions and no true friends. There is an association we call friendship which is very warm, very demonstrative, but it changes with circumstances. When the connection is prosperous they stay by his/her side, cheering him/her with sunny looks and approving words but when adversity comes they draws away.

Our English word friend comes from the same root as the word freedom. A genuine friend sets us free to be who and what we should be. We can pour out our doubts and talk freely about the wolves howling at the door of our life.

A faithful friend also affirms our worth. Queen Victoria said of William Gladstone, "When I am with him, I feel I am with one of the most important leaders in the world." But of Benjamin Disraeli she said, "He makes me feel as if I am one of the most important leaders of the world."

Unlike this a genuine friend comes to us in prosperous days only by invitation but hastens to our side unasked when sorrow darkens our life. In other words swallow friends fly with you in summer but are gone in winter. True friends however, stand by you when hard times hit. Are you a dependable, loyal friend? The following discourse on friendship may help you determine if you are or not.

"Concerning the man you call your friend –tell me, will he weep with you in the hour of distress? Will he faithfully reprove you to your face, for actions for which others are ridiculing or censuring you behind you back? Will he dare to stand forth in your defense, when detraction is secretly aiming its deadly weapons at your reputation? Will he acknowledge you with the same cordiality, and behave toward you with the same friendly attention, in the company of those who promote your welfare as well as those who disdain you? If misfortune and losses should oblige you to retire into a walk of life in which you cannot appear with the same distinction, or entertain your friends with the same generosity as formerly, will he still think himself happy in your company, and, instead of gradually withdrawing himself from an unprofitable connection, take pleasure in professing himself your friend, and cheerfully assist you to support the burden of your affliction? When sickness shall call you to retire from the happy and busy scenes of the world, will he follow you into your gloomy retreat, listen with attention to your ‘tale of symptoms,' and minister the balm of consolation to your fainting spirit? And lastly, when death shall burst asunder every earthly tie, will he shed a tear upon your grave, and lodge the dear remembrance of your mutual love in his heart, as a treasure never to be resigned?" The man who will not do all this, may be your companion, your flatterer, your seducer, but, understand, he is not your close friend. False friends are like chaff, they fly away at the first blast of adversity; true friends are the precious grain that remain. [Thomas, David. Book of Proverbs. Kregal. Grand Rapids. 1982. P. 362].

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