Below are just three things that the Proverbs has to say about friendships.
Love is the Ground
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
– Prov. 17:17
When Solomon speaks of friendship, he does not speak in terms of economics, contracts, or score-keeping. He doesn’t think of competition or nit-picking. He uses the language of love.
This is so counter-intuitive in a world that uses one another in order to get something. To have someone in your life that doesn’t want to use you but is there simply to love you is truly invaluable.
Catch that! Friends don’t define one another by their “usefulness.” Friends understand one another by their availability, depth of trust, and lovingkindness. That is, real friendship is not a tool used as a means to an end. The relationship itself is the end!
But for love to be expressed and felt between friends there are many things that have to be in play. One massive piece that keeps relationships in-tact is that both parties are relationally in-tune. Look at what Solomon has to say:
Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda.
– Prov. 25:20
To be relationally in-tune is part of the real work of friendship. Your real friend knows you and knows what you really need in the moment. They how to listen to you, weep with you, and feel what you feel. They’re not interested in just trying to cheer you up with a happy song so as to avoid the awkwardness that comes with sadness.
We’ve all been there in the moment when someone is made so uncomfortable by our own pain that they can’t help but try to cheer us up or downplay our pain by trying to give offer a form of false comfort. “Well, lets just go play ball or get a beer.” Or even worse, give you some goofy theology that trivializes suffering and says “Let go and let God.”
Your friend is the person who can’t fathom rejoicing when you’re mourning.
They can’t party when you’re crying.
They can’t laugh when you’re racked in anxiety.
Your heartache is something that keeps THEM up at night, too. Your pain becomes their pain. Your friend absolutely cannot and will not will not keep a safe distance from the messiness of your life. They enter into it lovingly and whole-heartedly.
A happy song sung to a sad heart does not heal; it compounds the fracture.
Tells You What You Need to Hear
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
– Prov. 27:6
Your friend is not only the person who is there for you in the gutter. They’re also the one who is willing to say true things to you… things you don’t want to hear… things that they don’t particularly want to say because of the fact that wounds accompany the words. Like Jesus, your friend gives you grace and truth.
Your friend will go much further than surface level and will and run the risk of wounding you because the wounds will lead to healing.
They’ll help break up the hard ground so that the seeds can grow. They’ll help cut down the branches so that light can get through. They really care about your well-being and maturity.
That’s because your friend loves you.