The Bible describes a different kind of friendship in Proverbs 17:17: "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Friends of this sort are rare, and like other rare things, they are of great value. Once a real friend has committed himself to his companion, he clings to him—he is both a fair and a foul weather friend. He loves his friend no less because he has become poor, or because he has stumbled and fallen. Like a lamp, his friendship shines brighter when it is surrounded by darkness. This friendship is not like the rainbow, dependent upon the sunshine, rather, it is as fixed a rock and as firm as granite. Love and loyalty are at the heart of this relationship because true friends stand or fall together. "Now Jonathan again caused David to vow, because he loved him; for he loved him as he loved his own soul" (1 Sam. 20:17). "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Pr. 18:24).
Friendship is a precious concept and a precious reality. It's a broad and a deep subject. More joy and grief in life is tied up with the subject of friends than almost anything we could think about. There are several views of what it means to be a friend and what is involved in being a friend. As a result of these different perceptions, there's a great deal of hurt, and we often let each other down. While we cannot change the loose way the word "friend" is used in our culture, we still need a biblical understanding of what God says about true friendship, and seek to practice this standard ourselves and evaluate others in light of it. In some case this might lead you to conclude that you have not been a very good friend, or that some people are not your friends. And so, I exhort you to consider the biblical qualities of a true friend, and urge you to cultivate these qualities in yourself and toward others. They should affect the way you are a friend—they should also affect the way you take others as your friends as well.