I don't the author of this quote, but someone once said "In order to have friends, you must first show yourself friendly."
Sometimes I wonder how true that really is.
Lately, I've been struggling with what it means to have friends. We talk pretty glibly about friendship and toss the word around pretty freely. But do we really know what it means?
Are friends simply people with whom you associate? That can't be it. I associate with my co-workers all the time; and they're not really friends. Are friends people with whom you have close and intimate relationships? I'd like to say so, but - as I've learned - even the most intimate relationships have limitations. So, if friends are not shaped by association or by the level of closeness/intimacy one has with another, what exactly does the term mean? The truth is I really don't know for sure.
What I do know is that friendship isn't some made-up concept. Even though I can't seem to put my finger on what really makes a friend, I won't completely rule out the fact there is such a thing. After all, the Bible tells us about the characteristics of friendship. There wouldn't be passages out there to support a non-existent term, would there?
Jesus reminds us in John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." What do you think that means? Does that mean that the only way for us to really validate our friendship for someone else is for us to die for them?! Actually, I think that's exactly what it means. But don't out and jump in front of that train for your friend just yet.
I think that when Jesus used that phrase, He was suggesting that friendships requires sacrifice. It means that we must experience the death (or, at the very least, the minimizing) of our self-centered, "It's all about me" approach to dealing with others. It's about stepping outside of what makes you 'comfortable', and being able to give yourself to the people you love. The key to this is giving, without the expectation of receiving. If those people are willing to reciprocate that same philosophy for you, then I believe that you have a true friendship, as defined by Jesus.
I think that's why my true friends list is getting pretty short. Sure, there are lots of people out there that I know and whom I love, but there's only a short list of people for whom I'd sacrifice myself and my comfort. Not only would I gladly go through the fire for them, I'd go through it with them.
Except, what happens when I get the feeling that they're not willing to do the same for me? Am I selfish for thinking that they should, especially if I do it all the time?
Have you ever felt like you were giving, giving, giving, while your friends were only taking, taking, taking? How do you handle it?
I'm interested in anybody's thoughts on this one...