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Pointers along the way #97

Are you lonely and without friends?
- Jacob Ninan

It is a common complaint many people have, that they don't have any friends. It is true that some people find it easier to make friends than others because of certain natural advantages. Some are by nature outgoing (extroverts) and it seems that they never lack friends, while others who are generally reserved by nature find it difficult to make new friends. But there is also another side to it, that these so called introverts, when they do make friends, may turn out to be more reliable and self sacrificing as friends!

When people complain that they don't have friends and nobody wants to make friends with them, it is quite possible that they may have to take some blame for it themselves. And it is also possible that once they set out to correct some of their approaches to friendship they too can find good friends.

One version of the Bible says that those have friends must show themselves to be friendly (Pr.18:24 KJV). This means that we must visibly demonstrate our desire and willingness to be friends. Our behaviour and approach must convince others that we are inclined to be friendly towards them. An expression of warmth including a welcoming smile, a strong handshake, and words of acceptance will go a long way in making friends.

What are some of the reasons why it can be difficult to make friends?

1. We are so much occupied with ourselves that we don't have much interest in others except in what they can do for us. Others can easily notice this.

2. We have such a poor self image that it is difficult for us to open up to the others. We feel guilty of our past or conscious of our lacks and we expect that nobody can ever love us.

3. We have such a high opinion of ourselves that we don't see any need for others. This gives us such an air about us.

4. Some of the poor responses we have received in the past make us hesitate.

5. We have had some bad experiences with some people and we don't trust anyone.

6. We want something from friends, but we are not willing to sacrifice anything for them.

7. We are unwilling to bear with weaknesses or forgive sins in others.

We need friends. God has made us that way. If God has accepted us in Christ, we don't have to feel inadequate or unworthy. On the other hand, if we want to have friends we must be willing to accept them as they come, and be willing to love them and care for them. Jesus said that a good friend will lay his life down for his friends (Jn.15:13). If we are like that, we can also expect to get friends like that (Pr.22:11).

Many lonely people are willing to give up their principles in order to get or to retain their friends. But this will only bring them great sorrow and damage in the end (Jas.4:4).

Building up friendships may take time, and it calls for a give and take. But it is worth it.