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Dick Brackett is Special Projects Manager for World Christian Broadcasting. His career has included producing audio-visual materials for a major United States corporation. For 7 years he was Bozo the Clown on local television. His hobbies include hunting, golf, softball, travel, and spending time with his wife, his children, and his three grandchildren.
Aside from my family, I value my friends above everything else. I don’t have a lot of stuff, but what I do have is not worth what a friend is to me. I like to make new friends, and I never hesitate to greet someone I do not know and try to be friends with them. My personal philosophy is that a stranger is merely a friend I haven’t gotten to know yet.
The Bible has a lot to say about friends. Most of these references are in the Old Testament Book of Proverbs, and were probably written by Solomon, possibly the wisest man ever to live.
Start with this: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Or think about this: “A man that hath friends must show himself to be friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” I have some friends who are closer to me than my own brothers.
Then Solomon tells us, “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so does the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.”
And how reassuring this is: “Your own friend and your father’s friends, will not forsake you.”
In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, God calls Abraham His friend.
I believe that there are only two ways to find a new friend…you can either be assertive and seek a friendship with someone, or you can be passive and wait while you are willing to welcome friendly overtures. Pity the person who holds back and closes up his mind, not willing to receive friendly gestures from someone else. These people will never have many friends, and certainly few close friends.
I believe that friendship is more about giving to others than about getting from them. If you expect to receive more from a friend than you are willing to give, you will not have a very balanced friendship. On the other hand, if you are willing to give with no hope of getting back, you will find yourself with more friends than you can count.
In the New Testament, in the Book of John, we learn that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, as a gesture of service. When He was finished, He asked his friends if they really knew what He had done for them. Then He said, “You call me Lord and Master and you say well, for so I am. If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should also wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”
Jesus was not talking just about washing people’s feet, but I believe He chose a very basic and humbling task to illustrate how we should look for opportunities to do good things for other people, even if it is just to wash their dirty, smelly feet. A true friend will give you opportunities to live as Jesus asks us to, by allowing us to be servants to them in some way. A favor you can do for someone else will enhance your own life.
You may have heard of the Boy Scouts. These young men take an oath to go out of their way to “Do a Good Turn Daily.” In fact, the Boy Scout program was brought to the United States from England, as the result of an English Boy Scout doing a good turn for a visiting American businessman. William D. Boyce was lost and confused one foggy night in London in 1909, looking for a particular building. A Boy Scout saw his dilemma and offered to lead Boyce to the building. When Boyce offered the boy a tip for his courtesy, the young Scout remarked, “Oh, no, Sir! Boy Scouts do not accept payment for doing a good turn for someone. It’s part of our Scout duty.” Boyce was so impressed that he returned home and the following year started the Boy Scouts of America. A single act of kindness has resulted in millions of boys who have become Scouts and learned life-transforming attitudes.
My prayer for all of us is that we will always have friends who are willing to share their lives with us and allow us to be friends with them.
To paraphrase John Kennedy, a popular United States President of the 1960’s, “Ask not what your friends can do for you. Ask what you can do for your friends.”