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Acquaintances and Friends
09 Jun Posted by Neil Olcott
I have thought about friendship and done some study on the topic. I have also learned a bit from life and the ups and downs of friendship. The challenge is that there is a false idea that is very prevalent today that reduces friendship to little more than an acquaintance.
It starts when we are just youngsters and our parents decide we should have some of our "little friends" over. It's understandable that we would refer to them as friends because it would be fairly awkward to call them acquaintances. Imagine a mom saying to her 5-year-old, "OK honey, why don’t we have some of your little acquaintances over today?"
The result is years of confusion regarding what are friends. Even as adult, those who we spend time with would be hurt if we referred to them saying, "thanks for being such a dear acquaintance," or "you know, you are one of my best acquaintances."
Time goes by and those we had called friends when we were little move on. Later in life, some whom we thought were friends let us down or betray us in one way or another and we end up struggling to fully understand what friendship is.
The author of Proverbs, under the inspiration of God, wrote God's thoughts on this issue in Proverbs 18:24: "Some friendships do not last, but some friends are more loyal than brothers."
The idea is one of longevity. Friends, unlike acquaintances, are with us for the long haul. Neither time nor distance will lessen the commitment that one friend has for another. They will put up with all sorts of issues and stick with you. Like brothers who will always be there for each other. They might not always agree with one another and the decisions that a brother makes, but at the end of the day, they are there to support, lift up, and, if necessary, even carry their brother.
Euripides, the ancient Greek playwright, said it well when he penned these words: "One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives." This idea is also communicated in God’s Word in Proverbs 17:17: "Friends always show their love. What are brothers for if not to share troubles?"
When times get tough and you see an acquaintance going through a tough time, you may say a prayer for them, maybe even send a card. But that will be the extent of it. That is what acquaintances do. But a friend goes much further. A friend travels to wherever their friend may be, no matter how far, and is there with them, sitting right beside them.
A friend will do whatever is possible to help, encourage, and support their friend no matter what. After all, what are friends for if not to share troubles? One true test of a friend then, as opposed to an acquaintance, is this: "Are they there with you when they hear of your troubles, or do they turn away?"