Summary: An exhortation to choose friends wisely.
It could be said that we live in an age of strangers. Very few folks meet at the fence anymore for a friendly chat and most folks do not even know the names of their neighbors. With varying work schedules and so many things we need to do and want to do, there is very little time for family let alone friends or neighbors. Yet, we all want friends. There are very few true hermits. Those who claim they want to be alone like Greta Garbo are just people who have been terribly hurt and afraid to take any more risks. Inside, they are dying for an intimate friend whom they can trust to love them as they are. I am extremely blessed to have a few folks like that. I have known Pete Mink for a quarter of a century and he is the brother that I never had. Some I have known five years or less. Recently, I was able to renew some friendships with folks that I have not seen for twenty-one years. Amazingly, they still seemed to like me and offered to pray me back into that area and want to keep in touch. And they say that God cannot work miracles.
We have many acquaintances at work and church that we would call friends. However, they are really just acquaintances that you enjoy their presence for a few hours, but you never see them anywhere except work or church. There is no deep commitment to them, but then there is very little deep commitment to anyone or anything in this society.
I can remember being a member of a church for four years and the last two of those years I was a deacon and teacher. Still, I had no one that I felt I could call as a friend to share the struggles I was facing. Indeed, I lost the battle of those struggles and while I am accountable for my backsliding and failure, it might have been different if I could have had a friend locally that I could have poured my heart out to without fear. I needed help, not rejection and judgement. Of all things, I needed confidentiality and not a public broadcaster. I knew no one that could give me that kind of help.
Prov 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. KJV
Many folks are shy or expect someone to approach them first to be a friend. That is not what the Scripture teaches. You have to take the first step. Just think, if everyone would be obedient to this passage we would all be reaching out to someone all the time and no one who really wants a friend would be without at least one.
Will Rogers never met a man he did not like and I have been told that I have never met a stranger. I can have a conversation with someone in a plane or bus station and someone listening in might think that we were old friends on a trip together though I have only met the person a few minutes ago. It drives my relatively shy, private wife crazy and she asks me how can I do that. I simply reply, "How come you cain’t?" People just seem comfortable with me and will tell me their life story. Most times, that is a real blessing because I get to minister to them or learn something. Sometimes, I feel like quoting Lewis Grizzard and saying, "I don’t believe I would have told that."
Yet, even with my personality and ability to communicate with folks from all cultures, classes, etc., I have had times like I mentioned when I have had no real friends. I just seemed to be around folks that had all the friends that they needed or believe it or not jist didn’t like me. Some may have liked me, but not enough to hang out with me because we had no common interests. I am not a sports person, so a guy who wants to talk about sports all the time would find me a drag. Some folks don’t like hanging around a preacher cuz they is afraid they might hit his preachin’ button and they will get a sermon on Tuesday and everyone knows you can only get them on Sundays and Wednesdays. I guess that is the only time they are in season or something. Preachers can talk about other things. In fact, I have some other buttons that you can push and get lively conversation. C];-)}|>
Sometimes, it is good to do without friends. There was fella back in the 19th century by the name of Lorenzo Dow, whom folks called Crazy Lorenzo Dow. With a nickname like that, he and I would have been close friends. It seems that when Brother Dow was only four or five, he asked a playmate if he said his prayers every day. The playmate, obviously a good Baptist, said "No." Young Lorenzo stood up and said, "Then you are very, very wicked and I shall not play with you." Now some of ya are sayin’, "The child was demented" or "That’s a bit much isn’t it?" I reckon not.