Have You Ever Wondered—
“How Many Real Friends Do I Have?”
OVER 100,000 persons were recently asked what makes them happy. The overwhelming answer: Having a warm, loving relationship with another person—in other words, having a real friend.
Isn’t it true that friendship adds joy to living? Most of us rub shoulders daily with scores of passing acquaintances, but it is with friends that a person can find comfort, share joys and grief.
WHAT IS A REAL FRIEND?
It is someone who really cares about you, a person who shows you unselfish concern. You feel close to that one.
A real friend is loyal. “A friend,” says the Bible, will stick “closer than a brother.” (Prov. 18:24) Even if no one else understands, your friend will.
WHY ARE REAL FRIENDS SO IMPORTANT?
We all need someone with whom to share our feelings. Our joys are doubled when we can share them with a friend. Our griefs are lessened by the sympathetic ear of a friend.
However, one survey found that most persons can count their real friends on one hand. Worse yet, some people have no real friends. They have very lonely lives, and this problem has reached epidemic proportions.
Life’s problems are not quite so heavy if we do not have to face them alone. “A friend is loving at all times, and becomes a brother in times of trouble.” (Prov. 17:17, “The Bible in Basic English”) Who of us has not had such “times of trouble” or may not face such in the future? Severe problems may arise and we may need advice. A good friend can help. We can trust him, because he is seeking our best interest. We know, too, that personal matters are safely kept between us.
To illustrate the importance of a good friend, consider the experience of a family, living in the countryside, who enjoy reading this magazine and its companion “The Watchtower.” Every two weeks a member of the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a nearby town would personally bring this family the latest copies. He did this month after month.
One day, upon arriving at the farm, the Witness was concerned when he found nobody there, but instead a note: “Will the Watchtower man please call back. Urgent!” That very night he made a special visit. What had happened?
A serious family problem had arisen. Where could they turn for help and advice? They knew that “the Watchtower man” cared. Did he not come to see them regularly? They trusted him and viewed him as their friend. Instinctively, they knew he would help them. Gladly he did so, and their friendship deepened. He pointed out to them counsel from the Bible that helped solve their problem. How grateful they were for the unselfish concern of a real friend!
HOW DOES ONE FIND REAL FRIENDS?
There are those who have tried to “buy” friends—giving expensive gifts and entertainment—only to find true what one person wrote: “A friend that you have to buy won’t be worth what you pay for him, no matter what that may be.” When you stop giving, he may stop loving.
To have persons show us unselfish love usually requires that we display that same unselfishness. It costs us something—no, not money—but we have to be willing to sacrifice some of our time and show genuine concern for another. There are many ways, even small ones, in which to show that you care about others. At times a gift, not to “buy” a person’s friendship, but as a token of affection, says that you care.
In a conversation with others, listen, show an interest in their feelings. The Bible recommends taking a ‘personal interest in others’ and ‘taking the lead’ in displaying honor to others. Yes, rather than wait for others to befriend you, perform acts of kindness toward others. In time, you likely will have the rich joy that comes from giving to others, and will share a warm friendship.—Phil. 2:4; Rom. 12:10; Acts 20:35.
Jesus said that his followers would be identified by having self-sacrificing love among themselves. (John 13:34, 35) So it should be expected that among His genuine followers one could find pleasant associates who would prove to be real friends.
In an unloving world this unselfish concern for others stands out. For instance, in Europe one Christian couple were dining out. Sitting at the next table were two African men. The menu was in French and the Africans were evidently having trouble making themselves understood by the waiter. “May we help you?” the couple inquired. Such timely assistance was gratefully received. Accepting the invitation to spend the following day at the couple’s home, they also accompanied their hosts to the local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. There they were greatly impressed by the friendly spirit of the congregation.
The two Africans happened to be visiting delegates to a conference. How they appreciated not only the act of kindness from two total strangers, but also finding a whole group with such warmth!
Is such warmth typical of all congregations of the Witnesses? Why not go and see firsthand. You may well get to know some whom you will come to cherish as your own good friends.