We live in a fast paced, digital era. There is a lot of good that comes from that. Easier access to information to educate ourselves. Ways to stay connected to people who don’t live close by. Simplifying a lot of our job processes. There is also a lot of bad that goes along with it. Too much bad news constantly in our faces. Comparing ourselves to other people’s online personas. Laziness and health problems that come from sitting in front of a screen all day. But one thing I think we are losing in this age is authentic friendships. Why put in the work it takes to really develop a close friendship when you can have thousands of followers online? The more the better, right? Not really. What do those people really know about you? They just see the version of you that you want people to see. The good moments you have handpicked to shine, or even the bad ones you’ve used to get attention. Where are our examples of friendship and human connection in the Bible? The book of Ruth is a good place to start.
Ruth was a young Moabite woman who married the son of an Israelite. Unfortunately, her husband died after only a decade or so. But Ruth still had someone – her mother-in-law, Naomi. Naomi and Ruth must have spent a lot of time together. Gotten to know each other well. Been through good times and bad times together. Naomi came to love Ruth as her own daughter, and Ruth loved Naomi as a mother. When the time came for Naomi to journey back to Judah, Ruth wanted to go with her. Naomi tried to convince her that she would be better staying in her homeland, but Ruth had come to love Naomi and refused to leave her side, and wanted to take care of her. In turn, once they made it back to Bethlehem, Naomi wanted to make sure Ruth was taken care of. She helped Ruth secure a good husband so that she would be well taken care of. These women encouraged each other. Took care of each other in the good times and bad times. Wanted the best for each other. They lived life together. They saw each other when times were bad. Naomi was in such a low place, she refused to go by her given name, which meant “pleasant”, and said she wanted to be called “Mara”, which meant “bitter”. Ruth still stuck with her.
There are so many verses that speak on friendship. Good and bad. Here are a few things the wise man had to say about friendship:
- Gossip separates us. (Prov 16:28) – There are different ways you could interpret this. Obviously, one is just don’t spread gossip. But another is don’t believe gossip. If we know each other well enough, we will know what is true and what isn’t.
- Forgive one another (Prov 17:9) – We all have faults. We all make mistakes. But when we love, we will forgive and grow stronger and put it behind us. Dwelling on each other’s faults ends friendships.
- True friends are hard to find (Prov 20:6) – Many may say they are our friends. But who are the ones who are truly there for you? And you are there for?
- We should take the counsel of our friends (Prov 27:5,6,9,17) – Our friends will tell us what we need to hear, not always what we want to hear. They do it in love, because they want to encourage us to be better and do better. It may just our feelings, but when there is a strong connection, we know their words are coming from the heart, not trying to harm us.
- We should chose our friends wisely (Prov 28:7) – We should choose close friends who encourage us to follow God and His ways. Too much time and too close companionship with bad company drags us down and brings shame on us and our family.
- Friends stick by each other (Prov 18:24, 27:10) – Our true friends will be just as close as, or closer than, our family. They are the ones who choose to stand with you and love you no matter what, even when you mess up or things aren’t going good. And if you mess up so bad you lose your way, they do their best to guide you. If you are determined to push down the wrong path, they are right there waiting when you come back.
We weren’t meant to do life alone. We were meant to have companions to share the moments with. Encourage, celebrate, comfort, commiserate. Connect with. Be real with us and honest with us. Even if they are telling us something we don’t want to hear. Love us through the hard times. Rejoice with us in the good times. Authentic friendships are precious. Strong relationships are priceless.