Skip to content ↓

Why Are You Friends with Your Friends?

Are you friends with your friends for the sake of your friends? Or are you friends with your friends for the sake of yourself? I suspect you don’t really know while you derive some clear benefit from the relationship. As long as the relationship is gain, not loss, as long as it enhances your reputation instead of diminishes it, you probably don’t really know.

A friend and I were recently considering some mutual acquaintances who had fallen on hard times. They had sinned or been sinned against, their lives and legacies called into question, their qualifications and reputations under attack. We noticed a difference between the two. One was deserted by his friends while one was supported. One saw his friends abandon him while the other saw his friends stay by his side. All other things being equal, both men learned something about their friendships. One learned that his friends will distance themselves when that friendship becomes a liability. The other learned that his friends will stand by him even when there is personal cost. One learned he had true friends while one learned he really had no friends at all.

I fear that, judged by this standard, many of our friendships are self-centered. In the final analysis, we are friends with our friends for the sake of ourselves. When there is benefit to be gained by our associations we gladly proclaim people our friends. But when that association threatens to bring us shame, we quickly deny them. Why? Because our love for our friends is less than our love for ourselves. The “friendships” last only as long as they are beneficial to us.

I am grateful to have entered into a number of friendships that I am convinced would endure such challenges. But even more so, I am glad to have entered into the greatest of all friendships with the greatest of all Friends. At a million times and in a million ways I’ve already given this Friend every reason to bail, every reason to walk away, every reason to flee the shame of association. But he remains. He perseveres. He refuses to run. He risks his reputation every day. Yet he remains the nearest and dearest of friends. As the old sage says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

  • The Least of My Childrens Accomplishments

    The Least of My Children’s Accomplishments

    I know what it is to be a father and to take pride in the achievements of my children. I had not been a father for long when I learned that the least of my children’s accomplishments by far outshines the greatest of my own. Their smallest victory generates more delight than my largest and…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 5)

    A La Carte: 3 waves that have shaped evangelical churches (and a 4th on the way) / When is a couple considered married? / A Christian’s practical guide to reproductive technology / Don’t be half a Berean / Wisdom is work / This body is only the seed / Book and Kindle deals / and…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 4)

    A La Carte: The blame game / Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be / A kind invitation and lifelong friendship / Steered into error by those closest to you / Satan as “prince of the air” / Under the eaves / General market books / and more.

  • Bring Your Skills to the Missions World

    This week the blog is sponsored by TWR, also known as Trans World Radio, and is called to reach the world for Christ by mass media so that lasting fruit is produced. Pete and Debbie Lee were living the American dream. The parents of two children, the Lees lived in Greensboro, North Carolina, and were…

  • How can you mumble

    How Can You Mumble?

    Some of my most meaningful moments of public worship have been in settings where I did not speak the language. I have stood with a congregation in rural Zambia as they’ve clapped and moved and praised the Lord in Bemba, a language that is utterly unknown to me. I’ve sat with a congregation in the…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 3)

    A La Carte: Life doesn’t always turn out like we thought it would / Hope for fallen Christians / AI as theological babel fish / Teenagers and parental hypocrisy / Is there a preferred Bible translation Christians should use? / Logos and Kindle deals / and more.