“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
Friendship is one of the most misunderstood relationships. Many think that friends are always having a good time together, but the opposite is the reality. When you study the Scriptures, the true friendships were cultivated and secured in the battle. You don’t see the friendships in the Scriptures as merely spending time in pleasure together. When you look at the Scriptures, you will discover that true friendship is kept together by serving and battling instead of partying and pleasure. Proverbs 27 shows five characteristics of true friendship.
First, real friends will rebuke you when needed. The verse above says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…” What are these wounds? Verse 5 shows us these wounds when it says, “Open rebuke is better than secret love.” A real friend won’t always pat you on the back for everything you do. If you think your best friends are the ones who always tell you what you want to hear, you are mistaken. The real friend will at times tell you that you are wrong, and if needed, they will rebuke you for the wrong.
Second, real friends won’t always tell you what you want to hear. Verse 9 says, “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.” My best friends are the ones I go to for counsel. You shouldn’t be afraid to talk privately to your friends about what you need to do. God gave them to you to help give you “hearty counsel.” Don’t let your pride get in the way of seeking a friend’s counsel.
Third, real friends are faithful when others forsake you. Verse 10 says, “Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not…” You will find that a real friend is one who stands with you when others forsake you. When people leave you in the day of calamity and come back in the day of victory, be wary of them because they are not your true friend. True friends STAY with you no matter what you face.
Fourth, real friends will tell you “no.” Verse 14 says, “He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.” A real friend won’t always tell you what you want to hear. A good test of friendship is to see if your friend has ever told you that something was a bad idea. Friends don’t always say, “Yes.” There will be times when they must tell you the truth, and the truth will be telling you not to do what you want to do.
Fifth, real friends won’t let friction sever the relationship. Verse 17 says, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” In order for iron to sharpen iron, it must be rubbed together which creates friction. There are going to be times when your friend rubs you the wrong way, but a true friend will not let the friction sever the relationship. Don’t let the friction between you and a friend end your friendship. If you work and battle together, there will be friction because that is just a part of friendship, and that is what makes friendship better.
When you look at these five areas, you will find that true friendships are few. My advice to you is to stay close to those true friends. Be friendly with everyone, but don’t push the true friends aside for those who are constantly wooing you when everything is good.