An Unexpected, Overlooked Benefit of Friendships

You may have noticed that books tend to arrive in bunches. Once publishers identify that readers are interested in a particular theme, several will often commission authors to write on the subject. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen quite a number of books on friendship. Most of them address friendship in a digital world and say, rightly, that it has fallen on hard times as so many people focus less on real-world relationships and more on online relationships. …

The Joys (and the Limitations) of Male-Female Friendships

Newton’s third law tells us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Though this law pertains to physics, it seems equally true in the realm of ideas. Recently, a renewed emphasis on the value of the Billy Graham/Mike Pence Rule as a means of protecting sexual fidelity has provoked an equal and opposite emphasis on the value of male-female friendships. To be clear, what’s under discussion here is not whether it’s okay for couples to be …

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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. …

Foster Your Friendships

Charles Spurgeon said that the voices of childhood echo through life in such a way that the “first learned is generally the last forgotten.” The lessons we learn in our earliest years tend to remain fixed to the end. This is tremendously beneficial when the lessons have been sound, but terribly detrimental when they have not. One harmful lesson men often learn early in life is that they should be suspicious of relationships with other men. From our youngest days we …

Kindness that Comes Too Late

I have always been glad that there was one person who brought out her alabaster jar and anointed the Lord before his burial. Most people would have waited. They would have kept the jar sealed until after his death. Only then, when his body was torn and cold, would they have broken it open to anoint him. But this one woman did not wait. She opened the jar while he could still enjoy its scent, and while his worn and …

Love Is a Risky Business

Love is a risky business. In one way or another, at one time or another, we have all suffered because we have loved. We have all been shocked to learn something we didn’t know before, we have all been grieved as we have discovered another person’s hidden actions or behavior. Some of us have even asked: If I had known that before, would I have still loved her? Now that I know that, can I still love him? We love …

You Don’t Really Know Who Your Friends Are Until…

You don’t really know who your friends are until their relationship with you becomes a liability instead of a benefit. Many celebrities, and even Christian celebrities, have learned this lesson the hard way. In the blink of an eye, or the release of a news story, they went from fêted to ignored, from celebrated to invisible. They learned quickly that many of their so-called friends had actually not been friends at all, but people thriving on a kind of symbiotic …

A Soul Physician

A couple of days ago Aileen and I were at the gym, alternating between lifting heavy stuff off the floor and then putting it right back down again (with a bit of running to nowhere in the mix as well). This kind of activity often leaves us rather sore, and, as it happens, there was a chiropractor working the floor that day, offering to show how she could soothe some of that soreness. It was a free sampling of sorts, …

Spiritual Friendship

Have you ever had a friendship that entered into irrevocable decline because your friend just up and moved away? Have you ever had a friendship that ended over matters of convenience or preference? My guess is that most of us have experienced something like this at one time or another. And I wonder if this is an inevitable part of friendship, or whether it may just be a sign that we take friendship too lightly. Wesley Hill has been wondering …

Side by Side

Sometimes I read a book and think, “If we all just got this, the church would be so much stronger. If we all just did these things, the church would be so much better.” And Ed Welch’s new book Side by Side is exactly that kind of book. If we could all just agree to do these things, the church would be immeasurably blessed. Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love is practical advice for Christians on …