Real authentic friendships are undervalued in our American society and culture today.  It seems to me that people in general have fewer friends than they once did. I have read studies over the past few years that indicate this trend has been a slow but steady one in our culture for sometime.  In fact one article said that 70% of pastors report not having one single person they believe to be a true friend.

Friendship is on the decline in America for a verity of reasons in my opinion.  Understanding these friendship killers could be the key to reversing our dangerous course of a friendless life.  Let me share a few of the biggest obstacles to friendship I see in our culture.

  1. The decline of the family- My wife is my best friend.  She is not perfect and neither am I.  Therefore our relationship like any other takes a great deal of work and effort.  However having a valued and trusted friend inside of my house enhances all other areas of my life.  Working on your marriage means by definition working on your friendship with your spouse this is a great place to start.
  2. People are to busy- Everyone is busy these days and most are to busy for real friendships. Developing and maintaining friendships takes time and our already overcrowded schedules has little if any room left for friends.  Slow down, start de-cluttering your life, make time and room for friends.
  3. Lack of forgiveness- Biblical forgiveness is difficult and demanding therefore few practice it.  As a result when we are wounded, or hurt we frequently walk away from the problem instead of moving toward it.  We forsake a great friendship because we are unwilling to forgive a single offense.  What took years or decades to build is destroyed in a single moment.  Without forgiveness a broken friendship can’t be salvaged.  Then because we have been hurt by this person who was close to us we decide that we can’t allow this to ever happen again, so we insulate ourselves from future potential friendships. The result, a friendless life.
  4. The misunderstanding of the word friendship has also played a large role in the decline of authentic friendships in our culture. I will explain this more in the following paragraph.

 

Please understand when I am speaking of friendships I am not talking about any relationship.  This term for the purpose of this article is not about a casual acquaintance.  Just because you know their name does not mean you are friends. But that is what our culture has come to think of as friendship.  We might define the word friendship as, someone you know, talk to, or helps you from time to time.  While it is true that friends do these things that is not actually what real friendship is about. Listen to how the Bible defines friendship.

  1. John 15:12–15 (NET) —12My commandment is this—to love one another just as I have loved you.13No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father. [2]
  2. Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) —24A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. [3]
  3. Proverbs 17:17 (NET) —17A friend loves at all times, and a relative is born to help in adversity.[4]
  4. Proverbs 27:17 (ESV) —17Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. [5]

Many more verses could be added to this short list.  From this short selection of passages we can see the real definition of friendship developing. “Closer than a brother,”  “loves at all times,” “lays down his life for his friends,” combined with the power to hold each other accountable and speak truth into each others lives as proverbs 27:17 states makes for wonderful friendships. Do the verses above describe your friends?

At the end of my life I know that I will have regrets.  I will have wished I would have done or accomplished many things that I never got around to.  However I pray that making time for friendship is not one of them. C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying “Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?”[6] If there is a greater pleasure in life I have yet to find it.  Its time we all start making time for friendship in our lives.

 


[1] http://ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/ministry-outreach/service/830-the-significance-of-serving

[2]  Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006.

[3]  The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.

[4]  Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006.

[5]  The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.

[6] http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-friendship-20-good-scripture-quotes/#ixzz2j1arEUs8