A True Friend is a Rare Treasure

“Don’t pity the girl with one true friend. Envy her. Pity the girl with just a thousand acquaintances.” ~Katie Obenshain

Friendship is a special gift. It’s a little part of yourself that you give to someone you care about. The value of a good friend is without measure. Friends are fun to be around. You don’t have to say anything to invoke their smile; they simply enjoy being with you. A friend is always there for you, even before you ask. Friends are a comfort to us, and the perfect remedy for loneliness. They are someone to laugh with, or to give us a shoulder to cry on. They share our moments of triumph, and they pick us up when we are down. A true friend will be there for you in good times and bad, sickness and health, storm and sunshine.

Fair-Weather Friends

A fair-weather friend is not a true friend. Fair-weather friends only come around when things are going well. When the going gets rough or times are tough, they disappear. Fair-weather friends are nice to you when it’s convenient and easy to do so, especially when the circumstances are pleasant or profitable for them, because then there is an advantage for them to be your friend. If that advantage is no longer there or is hindered in some way, then they won’t be inclined to be your friend anymore. If they perceive that there are any difficulties, problems, or even a slight disadvantage for them, they will split in a second.

A fair-weather friend may at first seem like someone you can trust and call a real friend, and he or she may even start out as a good friend. But in the long run, fair-weather friends are not very reliable and they may ditch you for no apparent reason. Their personalities are such that they tend to be immature, selfish, wishy-washy, and apparently haven’t learned the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31). At the first sign of trouble, or even out of boredom, these fickle friends will drop their relationship with you. It may seem cruel, but they’re probably just thoughtless and don’t hold anything against you personally, although they’re not being very nice. They may not even realize that they’ve hurt you.

By the same token, if you feel used or abused in a relationship, it could be because the other person is a fair-weather friend. These fair-weather friends come around when they need you, and yet you can’t count on them for anything. They never seem to be there on the days when YOU require help with something. They always ask favors from you and yet do nothing in return. They take what they can get and then they’re gone – that is, until someday when THEY need something, that person may come back and start acting friendly again. They are using you – don’t let them take advantage of you. A true friend does not simply spend time with you for selfish gain, but rather out of affection for you.

On the darker side, a fair-weather friend can be a false friend, one who puts on an act to get close to you but may actually be an enemy. Consider the terms “two-faced,” “backstabber,” and “traitor.” These are the worst kinds of fair-weather friends. Quite simply, they pretend to be your friend because they have an ulterior motive. Once they have what they want, they will drop you like a hot potato. Have you ever had a friend turn against you, steal your boyfriend, borrow something and not return it, spread rumors about you, or talk behind your back? If it’s any consolation, you’re not the only one. Throughout history, people have been treated badly and had their hearts broken by pseudo-friends.

Just like Judas betrayed Jesus, King David had a friend who betrayed him. Even though they did a lot of good things together, and David thought that his friend liked him, this friend actually worked for David’s enemies. In Psalm 41:9, David lamented, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” So when your friends hurt you, you can empathize with David, who wrote: “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God” (Psalm 55:12-14).

Choose Your Friends Wisely

Although appearances can be deceiving, you should try to choose your friends wisely, because your friends are a reflection of who you are. The Bible says, “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33), and “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). Take a close look at your friends and make sure you want to stake your future on them, because that’s what you’re doing. Your friends should be a positive influence on you while building your self-esteem. True friends will lift each other up emotionally, spiritually, and physically. They should encourage you to reach your goals, as you strive to help them reach theirs.

Anyone can be your friend when times are good, things are going great, or you’re on top. But these friends are not loyal. They’re there for the fun; otherwise they won’t bother sticking around. One day they will be your biggest fan; the next day they may refuse to acknowledge that you exist. These self-centered friends don’t want any part of your pain, trouble, or drama. When you’re having a bad time, they are nowhere to be found. A true friend, on the other hand, is one who stands up for you and supports you. A true friend is trustworthy; she or he is someone you can call at any time of the day or night. True friends will never desert you in your time of need. A person who will do anything to help you, even when it is inconvenient for him or her, is a true friend.

Similarly, true friends demonstrate the utmost respect for you and your opinions. They will not belittle you, scoff at your ideals, or mock your beliefs, even if they disagree. In fact, they are open to giving your views due consideration. In contrast, a fair-weather friend will neglect you in certain situations or brush you aside without an explanation. He or she may abandon a friendship altogether for superficial reasons or changes in moral beliefs without a care for nurturing fair discussion. Fair-weather friends are often easily offended and simply leave when things go astray or are not quite like what THEY think they should be, instead of attempting to work it out. They would rather avoid confrontations and will go out of their way to ignore you, even if you try reaching out to them.

Best Friends

As the saying goes, “A true friend knows everything about you and likes you anyway.” True friends are confidants who listen with their heart; they stand by you and stay there no matter what. A true friend genuinely cares for you. Conversely, a fair-weather friend does not uphold the concepts of loyalty and mutual respect. No one is perfect; we all make mistakes now and then. A true friend will accept your weaknesses, overlook your imperfections, and like you unconditionally. While a fair-weather friend is there on your good days but never has time for you on your bad days, a true friend is always there for you and understands you even when you’re not making sense.

The best of friends don’t necessarily agree with everything you do and say – but they lovingly challenge you to be a better person. It’s easy to tell friends things that will make them feel good (and you should), but sometimes it’s necessary to give them advice that may hurt even though it needs to be heard. A true friend will tell you the truth no matter how difficult it is, just as you should be willing to accept the hard truth when it’s told in love from a friend. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted” (Proverbs 27:6), and that’s the way it should be, because “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). We grow in maturity when we’re open to correction from friends who have our best interests at heart.

The most important part of having a good friend is to be a good friend. You must go out of your way to help your friends and lend a hand when they are in need. To receive, you must first give. Philippians 2:3 states, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” By valuing your friend’s needs above your own, you’ll be well on your way to being a true friend. Jesus is the ultimate example of this: His sacrificial love for others was demonstrated not only through the humble service of washing His disciples’ feet, but ultimately when He laid down His life on the cross. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Are you the type of friend who sticks around when stormy weather approaches, or are you ready to split when there’s rain in the forecast? You don’t want to gain a reputation of being a fair-weather friend – or even worse, a traitor. Take an honest look at yourself, admitting that you might bear some of the blame when things go wrong in a friendship. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Proverbs 18:24 states, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” If you choose your friends based only on what they have to offer, you’ll never discover the blessings of a genuine friendship. Casual acquaintances come and go. Good friends are hard to find. Best friends are rare. In the end, you will realize that you only have a few true friends. But it’s better than having many fake ones.

–Tab Olsen

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