A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17 NIV ).
Oxford anthropologist Robin Dunbar conducted a study in 1993 in which he determined that humans are only capable of having a certain number of friendships at one time. He estimated that number right at 150. He revised the number a little with the onset of our prolific social media use.
The more friends you have, though, the fewer close friends you have. And close friends are the people you turn to in times of great need. That’s the friend who, as the Proverb says, loves at all times.
Those types of friends are especially important to have to support your marriage. Especially when you’re experiencing adversity. When there is trouble between you and your spouse, do you have someone to talk to? Not to betray any secrets or reveal confidential information, but to help calm your emotions, look objectively at things, and even suggest how to proceed from their own experiences—even failures.
What is your definition of love?
The writer of Proverbs, if we really think about what’s being said, gives some great instruction for us to consider. Think about this: A friend loves at all times. This not only means that a friend loves when we are going through tough times, it might also mean a friend loves when we are the one that is causing difficulty for others.
Sometimes the adversity is not with others, it’s with you.
Our natural tendency is to read this Scripture thinking that a good friend will charge with us into the battles we face against the outside forces of the world that come crashing in. Very true. However, a true friend, one that truly loves, knows how to confront you when something is out of whack in your own life or marriage.
A friend—one that is like a brother or sister—will call you out when you’re working too much, drinking too much, or straying from purity. They will do it because they love you at all times, not just when you’re lovable.
What kind of friend are you?
We are often hesitant to get involved in problems we see for the simple fact that we don’t like to face the conflict. But that’s not actually loving. That is not being a good friend. Think about these life scenarios:
- How good is a doctor who won’t tell you that you’re sick?
- What about an accountant who won’t tell you you’re broke?
- How good is a parent who won’t discipline their child?
So what kind of friend won’t shoot straight with you about the problems they see in your life?
What kind of friends do you have?
Make a commitment to find friends you trust who will tell you the truth. Open up to them about what’s going on in your life. Be transparent. Be vulnerable. And be open to hearing from your close friends when they see things that need to change.
Your real friends were born for adversity—even when your greatest enemy is yourself.
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