“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.” Thus were the words of George Washington, this nation’s first and one of its greatest leaders. Do most people take those words truly to heart? Proverbs 12:26a states that “a righteous man is cautious in friendship.” But are people actually careful about whom they befriend? Some take on the attitude, “Oh! That’s the new rich guy in town. I should have him over for lunch sometime – who knows what good things he awards to those who invite him to dinner!” Doing so would be the opposite of what Luke 14:12 instructs us to do, and would form a friendship about which neither person is serious and committing. This shallow kind of friendship is not right, and it cannot endure. The only lasting, eternal friendship is that which has its roots based in Christ Jesus.
Another bond that does not last is one made by selfish individuals with earthly gain in mind. Proverbs 19:4 reads: Wealth brings many friends, but a poor man’s friends desert him. Too often in this society a rich man will look down on a less fortunate man, only because the former thinks that, since he has more material belongings, he is better than the latter. Similarly, Proverbs 14:20 states: The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends. If one is prosperous, he is thought of as a good person who strives for the American Dream – good social status, fame and fortune. People flock around him and feign friendships, looking forward to the benefits they may get. Whereas this century does not think highly of those people who, though deprived of earthly riches, maintain strong friendships with one another.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses, proclaims Proverbs 27:6. Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character,” shouts 1 Corinthians 15:33. These verses are better definitions for the word “friendship” than any Webster’s Dictionary could be. True friendship is rooted deeply in Christ; true friendship is laying down one’s life to save another; true friendship never lies or cheats or steals for gain of any kind. True friendship requires love, and Christ presented to us the very meaning of love by dying for us. The Bible story of Jonathan and David is another representation of true friendship, as well as perfect love. Jonathan realized that God intended to make David king over all Israel and, in so doing, depose Jonathan’s father King Saul. Instead of working against God and trying, as his father was, to kill David, Jonathan swore eternal friendship to David, and both stayed true to the oaths they took that bound them to one another. The only thing to be concluded is that any relationship or friendship not rooted in Christ has no firm foundation or meaning.