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Marks of true friendship
​​​©Linda Wegner

Of all the places we've lived in our nearly 50 years of marriage, I can think of only one neighbour who didn't become a friend. While we certainly didn't become buddies with every one of them, we always had a good relationship and we were quick to watch out for each other's welfare. (In fact, just yesterday I received another act of kindness from neighbours across the street. While waiting for the bus, they stopped and offered me a ride to town where my meeting was being held. It wasn't necessary but given the rain and wind, it was most welcome.)

Solomon has a lot to say about friendship; in fact, I counted nearly twenty references to the subject. For example, I love the words of Proverbs 17:9: "He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends." There's little more valuable and comforting than to have friends you know you can trust completely – after all, who of us hasn't failed or provided fodder for gossip should someone wish to spread it around?

Given that we all fail, how should real friends react to wrongs done to them or to others? In another passage (Proverbs 25:9) Solomon instructs friends to discuss the matter between themselves: "Debate your case with your neighbour himself and do not disclose the secret to another...." If there's a key to genuine and lasting friendship, I believe it's got to be genuine trustworthiness.

Then there is the element of exhorting and encouraging one another; I especially like The Passion Translation rendering of Proverbs 27:9 "Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God's presence."

Friends – be they living nearby or dwelling in our hearts, they're a genuine gift.

Jan. 29, 2018