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If loneliness is a problem in the modern world (and it is, definitely), friendship ought to be highly valued. It is, but there's the problem of the "loyalty gap" -- the feeling that relationships -- marriage, friendship, employer-employee -- are temporary at best, to be dissolved whenever one party feels like it. This situation isn't new, as the Bible makes clear:
Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is really faithful? ()
Of course, the Bible gives some classic examples of "really faithful" friends. The classic example is that Old Testament pair, David and Jonathan.
After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king's son. There was an immediate bond of love between them, and they became the best of friends. And Jonathan made a special vow to be David's friend, and he sealed the pact by giving him his robe, tunic, sword, bow, and belt.
The book of Proverbs is, in some ways, the "Book of Friendship," with wise words about the true meaning of genuine friendship.
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
There are "friends" who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.
Disregarding another person's faults preserves love; telling about them separates close friends.
It's harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with iron bars.
Just as damaging as a mad man shooting a lethal weapon is someone who lies to a friend and then says, "I was only joking."
The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.
Keep away from angry, short-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.
Wicked people are an abomination to the LORD, but he offers his friendship to the godly.
We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters.
Continue to love each other with true Christian love. Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Don't forget about those in prison. Suffer with them as though you were there yourself. Share the sorrow of those being mistreated, as though you feel their pain in your own bodies.
Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can't save anyone. Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, and you say, "Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well" -- but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all -- it is dead and useless.
The Book of God's Promises -- Copyright, 1999 by J. Stephen Lang. All rights reserved, used with permission.
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