Jesus also gave a parable concerning friendship in Luke. “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Luke 11:5-10).
In other words not even friendship could move this person to open the door in the middle of the night but the “importunity” or the persistence of the knocker persuaded the friend to open to him. The lesson here is that some times human friendships have their limitations and that persistence reaps benefits.
There is an example of true friendship between David and Saul’s son Jonathon, who in spite of his father Saul’s pursuit of David and attempts to kill him, stood by his friend. You will find that story in 1 Samuel chapter 18 through chapter 20. Some pertinent passages are 1 Samuel 18:1-4; 19: 4-7; 20:11-17, 41-42.
Proverbs is another good source of wisdom regarding friends. “17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). The issue here is that in order have a friend one must be a friend. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:6). “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17).
I am also reminded of the principle found in Amos. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed” (Amos 3:3). Friends are of like mind. The truth that comes from all of this is that friendship is that relationship that is entered into by individuals and it is only as good or as close as those individuals choose to make it. Some one has said that if you can count your true friends on the fingers of one hand, you are blessed. A friend is one whom you can be yourself with and never fear that they will judge you. A friend is someone that you can confide in with complete trust. A friend is someone you respect and that respects you, not based upon worthiness but based upon a likeness of mind.
Finally, I must return to the real definition of a true friend. “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8). “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Now, that is true friendship!