Summary: Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times.” A friend is a friend at any time. However, there are four situations that really prove who your true friend is.
Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times.” A friend is a friend at any time. However, there are four situations that really prove who your true friend is.
1. WHEN FACED WITH A TASK THAT YOU CANNOT DO ALONE
V.9, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.”
The word “labor” implies that the author is talking about work or engagement while the word “reward” implies gain, profit, or good results. There are tasks that are better done by two or more people.
A true friend is unselfish. He is concern for you. He is interested in your welfare. He works for you
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend” (NLT). A true friend helps you to fulfill your dreams. He helps you to realize your goal. He enables you to reach the stars.
In 1989, Mark Wellman wanted to climb the sheer granite face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. However, this dream was hopelessly impossible for Mark simply because he was completely helpless. He was a paraplegic. But a friend by the name of Mike Corbett came to the rescue. He carried Mark on his shoulders. In seven days, he was able to realize his impossible dream.
2. WHEN YOU ARE IN THE HOLE
V.10, “For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”
This is a practical observation. Specially for older people with physical infirmities. It is not advisable for them to live alone.
Someone said that you can tell a true friend when you are in trouble—he does not leave you.
What is a true friend? One pastor puts it this way: A true friend is the kind of person that if you call him at 2:00 AM to tell him that you need him, he does not ask, “So what’s the problem?” before deciding whether or not to come. He simply asks, “Where are you?” as he is getting dressed.
When he was a young man, Dr. Larry Crabb volunteered to pray in church but in that prayer he mixed up his theology. He praised the Father for dying on the cross and thanked Jesus Christ for raising the Holy Spirit from the grave. He was so mortified that he resolved never to pray or speak in public at all. However, an elder by the name of Jim Dunbar approached him as he was leaving and said, "Larry, there’s one thing I want you to know. Whatever you do for the Lord, I’m behind you one thousand percent." Dr.Larry Crabb, who became an accomplished author, conference speaker, and professor, reflects in one of his books: "Even as I write these words, my eyes fill with tears. I have yet to tell that story to an audience without at least mildly choking. Those words were life words. They had power. They reached deep into my being."
3. WHEN YOU ARE IN THE COLD
V. 11, “Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?”
The picture is being alone in a cold room. The ancient solution to this problem is to generate body heat by sleeping back to back. We still do that today.
I believe that the author is talking about spiritual frigidity than cold weather. Everyone of us have experienced those unusual times when we feel cold spiritually. Doubts have set in. We are angry at God. We cry, “Why me?” We think life is unfair. The Bible promises sound hollow. Everything is against us.
Gone was the fire that we first feel when we became Christians. Gone was the excitement of going to church. Gone was the desire to testify. The light in our eyes has gone out.
It is during these times that we need to be encouraged. We need the warmth of body fellowship. We need to be infused with new energy and faith and hope.
One pastor observed that people are divided into two groups when it comes to giving encouragement. Group 1--When we spend time with them, they send our emotional gas gauge all the way down to empty. Group 2--When we spend time with them, our emotion gas gauge goes all the way up to full. In other words, there are two kinds of people—the encouragers and the discouragers. The positive and the negative. Which one are you?
In the 80’s, Cheers was the number one show on national television. The theme song, which describes a bar atmosphere is a fitting description of a Christian church: “Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got. Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. You want to go where people know that people are all the same. You want to go where everyone knows your name.”