I make no apologies for the fact that I find the Bible to be a really dope book. For all of the super churchy folks reading this, while that might not be the way that you would describe it, the reason why I'm intentional about presenting the Good Book in this fashion is because, unfortunately, when a lot of people think about the Bible, it's strictly from a religious—and not the James 1:27 kind of religious—perspective. Yet the older and prayerfully wiser that I get, one of my favorite things about it is how practical it is. How timeless it is when it comes to its practicality as well.
Take friendship, for example. While a lot of us probably don't think about referencing the Bible when it comes to this kind of relationship, the Word actually speaks pretty fondly—and clearly—about it. While there are a few more verses besides the ones that I am about to share, whether you're wondering how to spiritually approach or spiritually define your friendships, you might just be surprised what opening up a Bible can reveal to you.
1. “Some friends play at friendship, but a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin.”—Proverbs 18:24(Message)
I've written enough content on toxic families, on this platform alone, to just about last me a lifetime (check out "Why You Should Be Unapologetic About Setting Boundaries With Toxic Family Members", "What If It's Your Parents Who Happen To Be The Narcissists?" and "How To Recover If You Had To 'Raise Your Parents' As A Child"). It's pretty hard to write pieces on such a heavy topic unless you can personally relate. That's why, it actually took me a while, to fully embrace a verse in Scripture like this one. Because, really, if some of your "nearest kin" feel more like enemies than friends, this might not be a verse that you find to be super-duper comforting.
But here's the thing. You know how they say that you can't choose your family, but you can certainly choose your friends? Over the years, there are people who have come into my life who have become, what I call, "love family". We're not connected by blood but man, they have been such a blessing to me. They take me, my heart and my time very seriously (they don't play with any of those things either) and yes, they are closer to me than most of my family is. That's why I wanted to start this particular article off with this Scripture. True friendship feels like healthy kin. That's not an exaggeration. I can personally testify to this very fact.
2. “Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat—refreshing!”—Proverbs 25:13(Message)
Any time someone comes to me for branding advice, something that I always bring up is the power of consistency. In my opinion, the lack of it has been the downfall of some many creatives because, it's not that they lack talent, it's that they are on one thing one day and something totally different the next. And you know what? Consistency is also something that you should be on the lookout for when it comes to putting a person in the "friend" category of your life as well. A consistent person is someone who can be trusted because a consistent person is someone who is reliable. To be reliable is to be "dependable in achievement, accuracy, honesty, etc." You can depend on them to be honest with you. You can depend on them to do what they say they are going to do. You can depend on them to be the same way (about you) outside of your presence as they are in it.
It took me forever to finally get to a place where I can say, without a shadow of any doubt, that every single friend in my life is a reliable one. And King Solomon was right. When you know—that you know that you know—that your friends can be fully depended upon, no matter what, it tops the coldest glass of water on the hottest day of summer. It really does.
3. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”—Proverbs 27:6(NKJV)
I actually semi-recently wrote, "What A Supportive Friend Actually Does (It's Not Quite What You Think)" with this Scripture in the back of my mind. It takes a really mature person to be able to take this particular verse in, but that's you, right? So, let's go. It's kind of a Ted Talk for another time, but something that I feel is a mini-god for a lot of people is happiness. Now before you freak out, let me explain. Not everything that helps us to grow and get to where we need to in life is going to make us happy. Going to work every day doesn't always make us happy. Paying bills doesn't always make us happy. Staying up late nights to finish up a dream or goal that we have doesn't always make us happy. But doing these things does make life better for us.
That's why I actually loathe the saying, "If you like it, I love it" or hearing about someone telling a friend, who they know is doing something unhealthy or toxic, "Hey, whatever makes you happy". Who cares if it makes them happy if it isn't good or right? I mean, eating ice cream every day makes me happy. It's not healthy for me, though. It kind of reminds me of one of my favorite "dark" quotes that says, "We are all searching for someone whose demons play well with our own." In other words, a lot of us think that a "good friend" is someone who will co-sign on our BS rather than call us out on it.
This Scripture here lets us know that a true friend is probably going to hurt us sometimes with the truth, but the point and purpose of them doing that is so we can become better individuals in the long run. Meanwhile, it's the flatterers (someone who the Bible is absolutely not impressed with—Job 17:5), the tell-them-whatever-they-want-to-hear folks, the ones who don't exhort and hold you accountable (bookmark that, I'm coming right back to it) that you oftentimes have to look out for. The Bible tells us that Judah lied to Christ's face and then kissed Him (Matthew 26). It was one of Christ's disciples, a so-called friend, who played a direct role in His demise.
So yeah, don't be so quick to write off someone who loves you enough to tell you about yourself. At the same time, be cautious about embracing someone who is always telling you whatever you want to hear. Sometimes the one seems like they aren't being your friend is being the best kind of one. And, sometimes, the one you think is your bestie is just a demon in disguise.
4. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”—Proverbs 27:17(NKJV)
This verse basically goes along with what I just said, but there is a bit of a twist to it. This one is a reminder that true friends hold each other accountable and accountability goes a few steps beyond simply not telling someone what they want to hear. When you are accountable in a relationship, one thing that it means is, you're willing to own your own feelings within the dynamic. Another thing that comes with personal accountability is being willing to take responsibility for your actions. In order to do both of those things well, you can't emotionally manipulate, deflect or pass the buck. An accountable friend admits their errors, apologizes when they are wrong and looks for ways to make the friendship better. If the friendship is truly healthy, both people are doing this for one another.
When you put all of this into the context of this particular verse in Scripture, your countenance is everything from your facial expressions and energy that you exude to how you are able to compose yourself. So basically, when the Bible says that a friend sharpens the countenance of another friend, a good friend challenges you to hold yourself accountable, to be your best self, as they support and encourage you along the way. Because, after all, if your friends aren't helping you to evolve as a person…how good of a friend are they?
5. “Two are better than one, because they have a good [more satisfying] reward for their labor; for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”—Ecclesiastes 4:9-10(AMPC)
No man is an island. I don't care how introverted (or ambivert-ed) you might be, this is very true. That's why, whenever I hear people say things like, "I don't need any friends", I'm not very convinced. While they might think that portrays confidence, to me, it's more like deep-rooted pain. And that's why I appreciate Scriptures like this one. We need others. They need to be good to us and for us and have our best interest at heart, but humans are designed to be relational. Another thing that's dope about this verse is I like that it says that when two people come together, they will get a reward for their labor. Reward means "something given or received in return or recompense for service, merit, hardship, etc.". Although most of my friends are in fields of work that have absolutely nothing to do with my own, there are times when some of their gifts, skills or connections are able to help me progress and vice versa.
A good friend will do what they can to help you get to the next level, just as you are willing to do the same for them. Not only that but, sometimes the "service" or "hardship" is getting through some tough times in your relationship. When two people are true friends, they see enough value in one another and the friendship to push through it, knowing that, there will be better days; that the pros far outweigh the struggles.
6. “Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul...Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.”—I Samuel 18:1-3(NKJV)
King David was a trip. That's another message for another time. But I do have a lot of respect for Jonathan when it comes to this particular part of Scripture. Although, in the religious world, covenant relationships are oftentimes reserved strictly for marriage, this shows that friends can be in covenant too. A covenant is an agreement, a pledge, a solemn vow between two people that they are—or aren't—going to do something for/to/with one another.
I've got one friend where we're in a covenant when it comes to confidentiality. Meaning, we agreed to be each other's go-to when it comes to even the deepest of secrets or information. Not only that but, no matter what, even if we stop being close friends, we have promised to remain each other's confidant in that way. My godchildren's mother? We made a covenant about my relationship with her kids that, even if we happen to grow apart, I am committed to her babies and she will be consistently encouraging of my being in their lives.
Covenants are good and necessary because they remind us to take what we say very seriously. And when you've got a covenant with a friend who, like Jonathan did for David, loves you like their own soul? That is the kind of friend that you need to hold onto for the long haul because love between two human beings really doesn't get much better than that.
My prayer is that as you read through these, you'll meditate on how your friendships align with these verses. Another practical thing about the Bible is, it provides insights and instructions on how to live our best life. Do your friendships assist you in doing that? If not, they should. Don't take my word for it. The Good Book says so.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here to receive our latest articles and news straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Shutterstock