Bob Tamasy: Tons Of "Friends", But No Real Friendships?

  • Monday, April 8, 2024
  • Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Friends, we might say, are a dime a dozen these days. And we all know a dime isn’t worth what it used to be. If we spend any time at all on social media, we can collect “friends” much like we’d collect dandelions on a spring morning. We can get a lot of them, but what are they really worth?

One social media accounts says I have more than 1,000 friends. Isn’t that impressive? But I bet if I were to encounter 90 percent of them in the mall or at Walmart, I’d have no clue who they were. And they wouldn’t know me either.

Other social media report on “followers” rather than friends, but the idea’s the same. It’s nice to know we’re connected – even if only in a cyberspace kind of way. However, if we were in a crisis, how many of these “friends” or followers could we count on for help?

Many of us remember the famous sitcom, “Friends,” that ran on TV for years. What a gang they were, having fun and sharing one another’s joys and sorrows. They still live in the world of reruns, but I digress. We’ve denigrated what means to be a friend, applying it to casual acquaintances at work, people we sometimes run into at the grocery store, individuals we shake hands with during meet-and-greet times at church, folks we see at the gym, and so on.

But shouldn’t true friendship amount to more than recognizing faces, knowing someone’s first name, and exchanging a “Hi, how ya doin’?”

We could do a bit of research, checking to see what famous people have said about friends and friendship. But I’ll leave that to you. I can think of no greater source to consult about friends than the Bible. No one could say it any better than Jesus: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Then He proceeded to do just that by willingly dying on the cross to atone for our sins.

The book of 1 Samuel in the Old Testament offers a stellar example of true friendship in David, the future kind of Israel, and Jonathan, the son of David’s predecessor, King Saul, who had severe security issues.

When Saul plotted to kill David, Jonathan stepped up in David’s defense on several occasions and then went to warn him of the deranged king’s threats. At times he even risked his own father’s indignation in defending David:

“Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, ‘You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame…? As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established….’ But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David” (1 Samuel 20:30-33).

At the poignant end of their last meeting, we read, “David bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together – but David wept the most. Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord…’” (1 Samuel 20:41-42). He was referring to a covenant of friendship they had made years earlier.

To the day he died in battle along with his evil father, Jonathan remained faithful to his friend David, even sacrificing his own aspirations. He epitomized what another king of Israel, Solomon, one day would write: “A friend loves for all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

We might never be a position of needing to put our lives at risk for defending or protecting a friend, but many people have – and in so doing confirmed the depth of their commitment. True friendship refuses to limit itself to the superficial. As the adage says, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

Proverbs 18:24 states it this way: “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” We all need friends like this, and we need to be a friend like this to someone as well.

* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

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