Saturday, January 26, 2008


Friends are really important. I know a lot of people. It seems like everywhere I go I run into someone I know from high school, or from church, or from a sports team, or from ministry. All those are great, but I have very few friends. I don't say that in a sad way at all. All I mean is that I believe in a friendship that runs deep. It's something that binds people together through the good and the bad. I have one friend who has had some really tough things happen in his life lately. I've watched him struggle through this thing and I wonder how he would do if it weren't for friends. I remember reading Aristotle back in college. In the Nicomachean Ethics he talks a lot about friendship. I wrote a paper back then about the similarities between his view of friendship, and the things Jesus says. Aristotle views friendship as something that happens when we have the other person's interests in mind more than our own. That sounds a lot like Jesus. When I think about the people I know, this is the thing that separates my friends from everyone else.

There are only a select few that I know would do anything for me. They would take a bullet for me. And there are only a few people that I know that I could honestly say I would do that for them as well. Those people are so valuable to me. They care about me, they pray for me, they encourage me, they make me laugh. My wife is the epitome of this. She is the one that keeps me going all the time. I love her as my wife, but I value her friendship so dearly. The best times of my life are when I am sitting around with friends just laughing, telling stories, and sharing all that is good about life together. But I also have some very painful moments in my life that are burned into my memory. It was in those moments that my friends were needed the most. They cried with me. They sat in silence with me. It wasn't their words that meant so much to me, it was simply their presence.

I'm trying to learn to be that kind of friend. I want to be a source of hope and encouragement, but I also don't want to speak when I shouldn't. There are some times when even words of encouragement can seem like a loud gong. There are times when we just need to be silent. I recently read through the book of Job again. I was really taken back this time as I read it by the so-called friends of Job. To be honest, I just wanted to punch them in the mouth. Job is absolutely suffering, and while I'm sure they were well meaning, their words are just annoying. They just need to shut up. I pray that God will give me the sensitivity to know when to speak and when to be silent. I don't want to turn someone away from God by speaking what I think are words of encouragement into a time when only silence is required.

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