Phileo is the Greek word for love that describes friendship or that warm feeling or strong preference we have for certain people. We develop affection for people because of close proximity, similar interests or personality similarities.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes it in this way, “Friendship … is a distinctively personal relationship that is grounded in a concern on the part of each friend for the welfare of the other, for the other's sake, and that involves some degree of intimacy.”
The important phrases seem to be ‘grounded in concern for the welfare of the other’ and ‘involves some degree of intimacy.” Some relationships that we may have previously called friendships are shallow by this standard. The questions to ask are: “Is there genuine concern for the other’s welfare?” “Is there some degree of intimacy?” “Are there thoughts you share with this friend that you would not share with other acquaintances?”
You may not any have friends that fit these criteria. You are not alone. Many people find themselves being too busy to expend the energy needed to build or maintain friendships. However, friendship is important. Judging from the many verses referring to friendship and to how it is maintained, the Bible places great importance on the love between friends.
Proverbs 18:24 says that a friend is faithful. He will be closer than a brother. We know that while in many cases siblings are very close, familial bonds are not always strong. A friend is one who chooses that bond and works to strengthen it. He is a friend on your bad days as well as your good days.
A friend is loyal through hardships. (Proverbs 17:17, 27:10) He or she is willing to stand beside you through the difficult times. Suppose you become disabled and are not able to participate in the usual activity of bowling. An acquaintance will express his concern before going ahead without you. A true friend will arrive at your house with pizza ready to play cards or watch television. Friendship is self-sacrificing.
True friends inspire one another to be better people. They will help you strive for higher ideals and remind you of what it takes to become the person you want to be. (Proverbs 27:17) When you are heading down a destructive path, does your friend agree with you and follow along or will he encourage you to take the higher road – one that leads you to be a better person?
A friend gives heartfelt council, speaking the truth even when it will be hard to hear. (Proverbs 27:9 and 6) Does your friend tell you what you want to hear – always agreeing – or what you need to hear, which may be painful?
True friendship lies more in the act of loving rather than in being loved – giving rather than taking. There will be a select group of acquaintances who are willing to expend the energy required. Those are called friends. Friendship requires thought and energy, as with all things that are worthwhile.
Make a list of your acquaintances that you would call friends.
What will you do today to strengthen a bond of friendship?
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Almighty God. The Creator of heaven and earth.
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