I wonder sometimes if our new generations have the same kind of friends that I had as I was growing up. It sometimes seems as if our “do everything online via phone or tablet” generation is missing out on actually being with and talking to real friends. I know many parents who are concerned about who their children want to befriend. Based on what some “friends” post online about others (and even what some post about themselves), I’m not sure how many even understand what a friend is. There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). I think that the simplest instruction for being friendly is simply, Do to others as you would like them to do to you (Luke 6:31). It’s hard to go wrong with that.
How do we manage to mistreat the people in our lives? Often it because we are so wrapped up in ourselves or our own little corner of the world that we just don’t see others as a part of our lives. We should be “friends” to everyone we meet–especially the members of our family. That means accepting all the quirks and imperfections that we see in them. If we’re honest with ourselves, each of us have at least as many of the irritating peculiarities as those around us. Despite all of that, we are to love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other Romans 12:10).
Sometimes, because we are so familiar with them, we treat those closest to us worse that we would ever treat a total stranger. Parents toward their children and children toward their parents can often forget the following instructions from Paul: Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:29-32). While parents and kids know how to “push each other’s buttons,” each should remember the words Jesus spoke when telling His disciples how to pray. And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation (Luke 11:4). Because there are definitely days when the temptation is there to scream and shout and sometimes worse.
Remember this: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13). If you always remember this, then you will understand what C.S. Lewis once said. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. He also said,Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire? The same could (and should) be said about our family as well.