Distinctions are important.  I’m finding that truth is the difference between mere affection and sincere love.  I have felt affectionate and have admired many people in my life, but our brief encounters do not allow for deep truths to be reckoned with.  Relationships which remain on the surface level are “phoney” (to borrow Holden Caulfield’s favorite adjective) relationships, in a sense.  They never get past the outer facade we display to the world.  Few people will ever truly become your friend, because those people have to reckon with the truth of who you really are underneath the epidermis you display, and for them likewise.  That is why true relationship is such a blessing– a relationship where two people can know the truth about one another and still have affection, admiration, and love remain.  Not many friendships could endure the truths Facebook doesn’t display.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,” (Proverbs 27:17).

I’ve been taught that this sharpening is painful– it certainly is.  In fact, I really wish it wasn’t and sometimes I want to retreat back into the shallowness of “multiple kisses”–  in our society that translates to, “likes” and “loves” on Facebook, instagram,ttwitter, etc.  Not that these people are necessarily directly our enemy, as the following Proverb states:

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses,” (Proverbs 27:6),

Excessively receiving “kisses” from those who do not know us well can deceive us, and the enemy IS the father of lies and deception.  Having a mass quantity of “encouragement” (I use that term loosely here) from people who do not know us well can inflate our pride and ego.  Not that we should always be seeking wounds from a friend, or that these “kisses” are necessarily bad, but I think we place too much value on sedative “feel-goods” and not enough value on the sharpening and pruning process (don’t I sound like a  Puritan).

I think of Jesus and his disciples– there was a time for partying, a time for serving, and a time for some serious rebuking.  But through those relationships, through the sharpening, these men became the hands and feet of Christianity!  What are we sacrificing by not allowing deep relationship to happen?   What are we losing by settling for false friendship?  Are we really being truthful to those we call friends, or are those people not even close enough to come near your truths?  If they aren’t, who will be?

“Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.”– Benjamin Franklin

My argument is that we need to find that “one,” or 12 (minus some) in Jesus’ case, whom we can trust to sharpen us.  Also, someone who will trust us to sharpen them and allow God to use us in their life.  If we aren’t trusting anyone, that’s pride.  If we’re trusting everyone, that’s foolishness, and likely pretty fake.  Our society degrades friendship so much in the sense that we make it so easy to “add a friend.”  Biblical friendship is so much more deliberate than the split second decision to “add” a person to the assemblage you call your “friends” on Facebook.  Paul gives us an example when writing to Timothy of how discerning and discretionary he is about friendship, and just how much he cherishes Timothy’s friendship:

Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.  When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments. Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done.  You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.  At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.  The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” — 2 Timothy 4:9-18

So are the people you call “friends” or “BFFs” helpful to your ministry?  Do they deliver truth to you?  Do they come to your support, or do they desert you?  Do they look out for you by caring for the mundane things, like bringing you your coat?  Do they come quickly, or are they too caught up in the world to care?  Are they too busy and forget you, or are they loyal like Luke?  Do they spend time in prayer for you?

Finally, do you do these things for people who call you their “friend”?

Holly Barnes

Holly resides in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where she is a member of Carolina Forest Community Church. At the church, she helps lead a young-adult ministry called Mosaic. By profession, Holly is a high school English teacher. In her spare time, she likes to read, write, crochet, make art, sing, play guitar, bike, drink coffee, and chillax with friends.

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