The Quest for True Friends
A YOUNG man was badly hurt in a motorcycle accident. For weeks he was in a coma and then began to recover slowly. “If I had as many good friends as I do acquaintances I would recover at a much faster rate,” he said. ‘A lot of the friends I had before the accident have left me. But good friends can be very curative.’
This situation is typical of today’s unfriendly world. So-called friends can be many when all goes well. But when misfortune strikes, they disappear. True friends are usually hard to find.
Yet, having just one or two true, warm friends makes a vast difference in life. Experts on the subject say: “The yearning for closer personal ties is a major theme of our times.” And as an old saying puts it: ‘Friends in need are friends indeed.’
At one time, people were more concerned about others and were willing to help their friends or neighbors. But the pivotal period of World War I brought a general worsening of human relations. An ungrateful, callous, me-first attitude is now the norm.
This sad state of affairs was foretold 19 centuries ago in these words: “In the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian. For people will love only themselves and their money; they will be proud and boastful, sneering at God, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful to them, and thoroughly bad. They will be hardheaded and never give in to others; they will be constant liars and troublemakers and will think nothing of immorality. They will be rough and cruel, and sneer at those who try to be good. They will betray their friends.”—2 Timothy 3:1-4, The Living Bible.
What a gloomy yet accurate picture of the world today! And it apparently gives us little hope of finding true friends. Nevertheless, even now it is possible to make true friends. And how precious they are! You can always turn to them for help, advice, comfort, and warm companionship. But it is vital to distinguish between true and false friends.
Not All “Friends” Are True Friends
The young man hurt in the accident mentioned at the outset was a member of a football team and had many “friends.” Members of clubs or small communities often form relationships that are pleasant. But such “friendships” may not be very stable. And to have many “friends” and then lose all of them is very discouraging, as the young man discovered. To acquire acquaintances is easy; to make true friends is not.
Wealthy people or those in high station can easily make many “friends.” As the Bible says: “The rich have many friends.” “Everyone tries to gain the favor of important people; everyone claims the friendship of those who give out favors.” (Proverbs 14:20; 19:6, Today’s English Version) But how many of them have ulterior motives? And if the much-befriended persons lose wealth or status, they may soon be completely friendless.
Physically attractive people often have lots of “friends” too—many of them influenced by physical factors. But such “friendships” can be very harmful and can vanish amid adversity like mist in the heat. So there is a real need to . . .
Yes, there is wisdom in being selective about friends. False friends are often great flatterers who curry favor with some ulterior motive. “The man who flatters his neighbour spreads a net for his feet.”—Proverbs 29:5, The Jerusalem Bible.
Therefore, think carefully about your present circle of friends. Do they influence you for good or for bad? Are they self-centered, opinionated, or conceited? Do they act rashly and delight in taking risks? What is their attitude toward those of the opposite sex? Are they courteous and respectful or overly familiar, perhaps actually immoral? Have your regular companions proved to be dishonest, unreliable people? Are they drug takers? Heavy drinkers? If so, you are in danger. You may be honest, clean, and humble, but remember: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Corinthians 15:33.
The great danger in having bad companions is that you will imitate them. Slowly, maybe imperceptibly, their ways and attitudes will rub off on you. As the Bible says: “Keep company with the wise and you will become wise. If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined.”—Proverbs 13:20, TEV.
It is easy to take a false step when acquiring friends. But do not be discouraged. There are still millions of fine, friendly people in the world. So how can you find such true friends?
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Your companions can powerfully influence you