The best investment you can ever make in life is not financial, but in building good relationships. There are only two things that can be accumulated in life: goods or friends. People who try to gather goods, and to always have more, will never be fully satisfied, but they will always miss something in life… Those instead who gather friends, and try to be good friends to others, will never be alone in life.
The day before yesterday (May 23, 2014), I crossed a major landmark, having turned 60, and I received several hundred birthday wishes from all over the world, mostly from friends made during the many years of missionary activity that my wife and I have engaged in since we were young. I was 19 years old when Jesus revealed Himself to me as my Best Friend and I dedicated my life to Him, putting aside every other ambition in order to “go into all the world” (Mark 16:15) and “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:20).
The Lord blessed this choice and, after only a few months, I met the wonderful woman that would later become my wife, the life friend and companion who joined me in the mission to which we were both called about 40 years ago. Having lived and worked together in three different continents, gathering disciples for Christ in over 15 nations, today I realize that those disciples have also become my “friends”, and they will be it for eternity.
The material possessions that I could have gathered, had I made a different choice, would never have made my heart as happy as the Happy Birthday Wishes that I received from so many friends scattered from the Far East to Latin America, from the United States to the Soviet Union, from Africa to Northern Europe…
One of these wrote me that I’m “a rich man, in faith, love and legacy”, and that’s exactly how I feel! I might not have accumulated material possessions, or set aside “certainties” for my old age, but in the course of my life I have met so many wonderful people who are now my friends, and they will spend eternity with me! These are what I consider the true riches of my life, and they are invaluable!
The Bible says that “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevails against him, two shall withstand him; a threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12).
These words usually make us think of marriage, and they can certainly be applied to that relationship, especially if the two love each other and are good friends beside lovers, as pointed out in the “Song of Songs” where the bride calls her beloved “my friend” (SoS 5.16). However, I believe that these words apply to all those who feel lonely in this world and need true friendship. They highlight the precious value of friendship.
When it says, “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor” (v. 9), it’s emphasizing the benefits of a good friendship, even though at times it may take some “labor”. It’s not always easy to earn the trust and respect of a friend, because “a man that has friends must show himself friendly” (Proverbs 18:24), and that might require some effort, but I believe that friendship is the best investment you can ever make because it has its rewards, even here in this life! Let’s see what these are…
- A true friend will lift you up when you fall. “If they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up” (v. 10).
There are a lot of people that we will consider “acquaintances”, but how many of these are “true friends”? And how do you distinguish between friends and acquaintances? It’s easy, just get in trouble. The people who remain at your side during your difficult times are your friends, people you can count on at all times. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).
- A true friend will warm you up in a cold, cruel world. “If two lie together, they have heat: but how can one be warm alone” (v. 11)?
Loneliness is often the result of social indifference, a sign of the times in which we are living. ”Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24: 12). Sometimes it’s really cold out there, and we do not have enough strength to overcome adversity alone. It takes the presence of friends to provide the emotional warmth that we need in order to make it. Friends are those that give us strength and courage.
- A true friend will fight to protect you and your reputation. “If one prevails against him, two shall withstand him (v.12).”
In the world there are always going to be conflicts, because the human being is driven by passions that often clash with those of others, and there will always be those who want to harm us, and will criticize us behind our back. The true friend will watch your back and will not allow others to speak ill of you, but will fight by your side to protect you from the gossip, the insults and attacks of your opponents.
- A true friend will honor your relationship with God. “A threefold cord is not quickly broken (v. 12).”
To be able to stand the test of time and survive the relentless challenges that will often put it at risk, a good friendship cannot be just a “twofold” cord, a closed relationship between only the two people involved, but it must include the presence of God, which will strengthen it and make it “a threefold cord that is not quickly broken”. When our trust and respect will be tested by misunderstandings, we must involve our Supreme Friend who knows the secrets of the heart, because only He can help us understand and love each other as He does.
This applies to any relationship between friends, even in marriage!
If today, after 38 years of marriage and over 40 years of friendship, my wife Patricia and I are still together and more “in love” than we have ever been, it’s thanks to the love that God continues to give us one for the other, filling our cup to overflowing on each other… It is He who has made our relationship “a threefold cord that is not quickly broken”!
And you? Have you have learned to cultivate a healthy friendship with your sweetheart and the people dear to you? We will soon begin a new Marriage Coach Training Course, offering insights and dynamics that are essential to build a good relationship and a healthy marriage. If you are interested, please write to us at: email@example.com