“A man of too many friends comes to ruin but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother” -Proverbs 18:24
We humans weren’t meant to live life on our own. We were obviously designed by our awesome God to share life together. But so many of us are soloing through this life. Proverbs 17:17 (and a zillion other verses) reminds us that “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Can we have too many friends? Yes. It’s not how many we have but how deep the friendships go that matters.
It’s being sure that the friendship has depth. “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” -Prov. 27:17. Friendship is a verb, not a noun. “Sharpening” sounds good but the truth is it involves sparks and heat and friction. Someone said that a true friend is someone who is willing to stab you in the front. I thank God I have and have had those kinds of friends in my life! (though I don’t like the truth they share sometimes :))
I have been super blessed my whole life to have had several awesome friends in several different friendship areas. There are common attributes in all the men and women that God has used and is using to shape and mold and chip away at this mess called Joey Staples. There are too many friends to name but there are five qualities that I see in the lives of these wonderful friends God has brought into my life who I admire so much. They are all attributes of love.
Steadfastness. None of my friends are perfect. But they are solid to the core. No doubt, their depth is because of their relationship to the Rock itself, Jesus Christ. They are able to stand strong because He is more than able to bear the burden.
Patience. If a friendship is a dependent relationship, it doesn’t work very well. “I’ll love you if…” never lasts very long. I am so thankful that my friends have been willing to be patient with me. We are all still under construction and friends who are willing to hang in there make all the difference.
Tough love. I’ve made mistakes over the years and my best friends have been willing to lovingly confront me, speak truth in love and make me better. Not fun all the time, but all a part of why God designed us all to be relational and connected with each other.
Empathy. My best friends have been spot-on honest with me, but they have also been super understanding. Yes, they have been willing to confront and correct me, but they have also been patient and understanding. That’s the definition of true love and at the heart of empathy: understanding and a willingness to share the load with me.
Fun. A flaw in my temperament is a tendency to take life way too seriously. Though some of my friends have warped sense of humors (seriously), I love their humor and laugh and appreciate their willingness to slow me down. I really do think that Jesus had a great sense of humor. I can just imagine some of His comments to the disciples. At just the right time, it brought smiles to their faces and settled everyone down.
Again, thank you to all my dear friends. Some of you have gone on to the next life and I look forward to seeing you again one day. I am just so thankful for my older and younger friends, for my family friends, for my ministry friends, my adult kids Eric and Elizabeth and for my beautiful wife Jeanie. You have all been so loving to me. I do value YOU so much. God has used you in so many ways and I want to again say THANK YOU and that I love you.
By Eric Joseph Staples ©
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