What is Friendship? Who is a True Friend?
A faithful friend is the medicine of life. ~ Ecclesiastics 6:16
To understand the very fabric of friendship, one of my favorite places to look is the Bible. Undoubtedly, the Bible presents the theme of friendship in a very unique way.
In the book of Ecclesiastics, the author Solomon uttered these words â€œa faithful friend is the medicine of life when he linked friendship with medicine and life. For a greater and complete understanding, let us seek and explore the true essence and meaning of these two words: friend and friendship.
“A friend is, as it were, a second self.” ~ Marcus T. Cicero
So, what is friendship? Who is a friend? A friend is a lover. Love is the essence of friendship. Mother Teresa said, Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own heart and house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next-door neighbor.
Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living experience of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greetings. Expressing love in such a manner is the way of a true friend.
Est mihi nescio quid quod me tibi temperat astrum
“There is something, I know not what, which yokes our fortunes, yours and mine.”
Literally speaking, a friend is a lover and the one who speaks the truth. The relationship between Latin amcus “friend” and am “I love” is clear, as is the relationship between Greek philos “friend” and phile “I love.”
In the Old English language, about a millennium back, frÄ“ond, the word for “friend,” was simply the present participle of the verb frÄ“on, “to love.” The root of this verb is Germanic which is frÄ« -, which meant “to like and loveâ€. That was what meant by â€œto be friendly withâ€.
This same root word also shows up in the name of the Germanic deity “Frigg”, the goddess of love, who lives on today in the word Friday, the day of Frigg. Also, it is worth taking note that in the Old English, freo also means “free.” Therefore, to love, to favor, is also related to being free. Interesting!
In Dutch and Afrikaans, the word for friend is Vriend which come from Old English Freond meaning â€œto love. In Italian, it is Amico which comes from the root Amare meaning to love.
In French, it is Ami which comes form the root aimer meaning â€œto love. In Spanish, a friend is Amigo which comes from the root word Amor meaning â€œto love.
In Albanian, it is Mik which comes from the root Amicus in Latin meaning â€œto love. In Urdu, the original implication of DostÂ meaning friend is â€œloverâ€ which comes from the Persian Dost which also means â€œa loverâ€. Therefore, a friend is a lover.
In Tagalog Kaibigan is the word for friend. The root word “ibig“, means “to love.” Putting “ka” before a root word signifies a state of being, such as “ka-ibig“, literally “being someone to love”. Putting “an” after a word makes the focus of the sentence the direction of the action, such as “ibig” â€œto love with “-an” becomes “-ibigan“, literally meaning â€œa state of soul to be in love. Thus, “Kaibigan” could literally mean, “the state of being someone to share love with”.
Love can never wound. Nothing can hurt if there is the element of love inside it. Love is the essence of the creation of this world. On the other hand, an insincere and evil one is thus a person who is void of this love.Â Without love friendship cannot be understood. While many people may be our casual associates in our earthly life, few are those who walk in truth and posses the element of love inside them.
Nos duo turba sumus.
We two are a multitude.
The powerful words of friendship can heal wounds, mend broken hearts, restore peace and strengthen a soul more than ever. Jesus himself called His followers as friends and defined a true meaning of friendship by dying for all of humanity and on behalf of all the fallen creation.
In the Bible, in the graceful journey of God with man, there are multitudes of words and speaking that have a word “friend” in it. â€œThe Book of Proverbs might almost be called a treatise on Friendship, so full is it of advice about the sort of person a young man should consort with, and the sort of person he should avoid, said Huge Black in his book Friendship.
“It is better to be in chains with friends, than to be in a garden with strangers.” ~ Persian Proverb
In Proverbs 27:9 we read, Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. The Gospels state that Jesus Christ declared, No one has greater love than this that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.
It is not by chance that there is a great emphasis put on friendship in the New Testament, as is the case in any other scriptures. The classical literature is filled with the stories of great friendships. Ancient mythology and legends are deeply woven into the illustrations of great friendship, which in some instances almost assumed the place of a religion itself. The classical example of Krishna and Sudama and Krishna and Arjuna are excellent examples.
Friendship is considered one of the main human experiences, and has been sanctified by most major religions and myths. The Abrahamic faiths have the story of David and Jonathan. Friendship played an important role in German Romanticism.
“An honest answer is the sign of true friendship.” ~ Proverbs 24:26
In philosophy, Aristotle is known for his discussion in the Nicomachean Ethics of Philia, which is usually translated as â€œto love in friendship,â€ and includes friendship in a much broader concept. Aristotle’s conception of friendship conceived of three distinct categories or ‘tiers’ thereof. First, there are the ‘business partners,’ those who benefit financially from their friends; second, there are our ‘drinking-buddies’ â€“ people we have fun with; and, thirdly, people with whom we pursue virtue or arete.
Hold a true friend with both your hands. ~ Nigerian Proverb
In Arabic, there three common words for a friend are Sadeeq which comes form Sadaqa to say the truth or to be truthful; Sahib which comes from Sahiba to accompany; and Rafeeq which comes from Rifq which is Kindness. Among the three the oldest and the truest word for friend is Sadeeq which is the one who always tells the truth. He is called so because a friend does two things: he tells you the truth and he believes what you say and vice-versa.
“A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.” ~ Arabian Proverb
Thus we can conclude that in Arabic, the word for “friend” comes from the root “truth”. Because â€œWho is a friend?” The one who tells the truth.
For many people, friendship is just that trust that someone will not harm them. Thus a friend is a person whom one knows well, likes, and trusts. It is nothing more than that. This feeling and confidence in another human being are truly praiseworthy and essential for the healthy functioning of human civilization.