How Does a Friend Love at All Times?

Author of Someplace to Be Somebody
How Does a Friend Love at All Times?

Do you have a friend? Maybe you have lots of friends. Some you can call acquaintances, but many of us are blessed with friends who are “closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). These are the people with whom we can share our most cherished dreams, as well as our deepest disappointments. These are the people we love and trust, and we would do just about anything for them.

Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times. And a brother is born for adversity.” What does this verse mean?

Who Wrote This Proverb and to Whom?

The book of Proverbs is, in essence, a collection of wise sayings throughout thirty-one chapters. King Solomon almost exclusively penned the book, but chapters thirty and thirty-one were written by Agur, and King Lemuel, respectively (see Proverbs 1:1, 30:1, and 31:1). Proverbs are short and concise, and they illustrate enduring truth and insight.

In Proverbs 1:4, we are introduced to its purpose and general audience, “to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth.” Proverbs 1:8 shows us the specific audience as Solomon states, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.”

What Does This Proverb Mean?

What we gather from Solomon’s words throughout Proverbs is that consequences are conditional on the student’s (son’s) decision to abide by the instruction. There are commands and also “words to the wise” within the Proverbs. Proverbs 2:1-5 tells us that if the hearer receives the teacher’s words and attends to wisdom and understanding, then he will “understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” This condition aids our understanding of the verse which says a friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.

We are shown the difference here between a friend and a brother. A loving friend is an unceasing source of that love. A sibling may or may not be as close, yet shows up in times of trouble. Therefore, friends are constant and a brother, while present in a time of calamity, is not always available.

What Is a Friend, and in What Way Does a Friend Love?

Let’s define the word friend. First we need to remember that being a friend is a choice, while being a brother is not. Being born into a family doesn’t necessarily make siblings friends (as so many of us can attest).

According to Logos’ William J. Ireland, Jr., “friendship may be simple association (Genesis 38:12; 2 Samuel 15:37) or loving companionship, the most recognizable example being that between David and Saul’s son, Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1, 3; 20:17; 2 Samuel 1:26).”

The Bible uses the word love in four main ways:

Agape is an unconditional, everlasting, and sacrificial love. When Scripture tells us of God’s love for us (John 3:16, 1 John 3:1, e.g.), it’s agape (perfect) love. So too is a husband’s love for his wife (and a wife’s for her husband).

Storge is described as familial love.

Eros is romantic love between a husband and his wife (and a wife and her husband).

Phileo is a love between close friends.

People in general tend to involve their friends in all aspects of their lives. In this sense, a friend is prepared for what may happen in another friend’s life. This is not always so with families. When we “leave the nest,” so to speak, it’s usual to become independent of our parents and siblings. We cling to friends who have common interests, cheering for each other in successes and coming alongside when failures occur.

A true Christian friend loves by:

- Praying

- Being available 24/7

- Listening (Families, who “knew us when,” lean toward solving our problems before we finish speaking)

- Being open and vulnerable and allowing the same

- Understanding when solitary time is needed by their friend

- Staying in contact

- Doing all he or she can to help/support their friend as they grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ

- Celebrating our successes

- Grieving our losses

- Gently correcting us

- Accepting correction

The list is long, and more can be added, but this is a good starting point. Jesus added weight to our understanding of what a true friend is when He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Isn’t that the ultimate love, and isn’t that what Jesus did for us? (see John 3:16)

Solomon continues his discourse on good character versus evil and foolish people. The maxims may seem random, but when they are measured together, there exists a theme. The overarching purpose of this book is teaching a person (a youth, a son) what living in wisdom looks like. Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom (1 Kings 3:5-15), and the book of Proverbs is a result of what the Lord gave him.

What About When Our Friends Annoy Us?

Annoyance is inevitable in any relationship, even the most loving. We are selfish by nature and even though as Christians we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), sanctification is an ongoing process. We won’t be the best, most loving friend until glory, because we are still sinners. And sinners can and do annoy others, because, well, we want what we want.

Realizing all of this, however, we are to be conformed to Christ. Whether we are annoying or are annoyed by others, we must react with Christlike patience, gentleness, and all the other fruit of the Spirit as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23. The best way to love your friend is to love the Lord first, and then your friend(s) (Luke 10:27).

How Can a Friend Lovingly Correct When We Need That?

Sometimes we discover our friend has erred in some way. It could be a theological error or it could be an action done by a friend that either has or might affect themselves and/or others. If another person shares a problem about/with your friend, the best course of action is to always ask your friend for their side of the account. Remember to go to them with an open and soft heart, yet having prayed for discernment. Listen and – if the situation warrants a correction based on your friend’s confession of wrongdoing – answer with grace and love. Always seek their best.

If a friend comes to you and admits a sin, the first thing to do is pray silently for the Lord’s help. Tell your friend you love them and want to support and help them through this time. Ask them if they have first confessed to the Lord and repented of their actions. If they haven’t, you can pray with them. They may need your help with prayer especially if it’s the first time this has happened to them. Then remind them of 1 John 1:9, that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just. He will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In no way should you place yourself in a lofty position because the Bible tells us to be humble and to consider others as more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).

Of course, we would expect the same from a friend if we are in the wrong.

Friendship with Unbelievers

Believing friends are a treasure. But what about friendship with unbelievers? By all means, enjoy friendships with people who do not know the Lord, but be careful not to conform to their world (Romans 12:2). As you should every day, put on your full spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:13-18) before heading out to socialize with an unsaved friend. Interacting with people who do not love the Lord gives us the opportunity as God’s ambassadors to share the Gospel with them (2 Corinthians 5:20). Make the best use of your time with believing and unbelieving friends, for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16).

A Prayer for a Believing Friend

Lord Jesus,

I thank You for my friend, _________. She is such an example to me as she loves You above all else and reflects Christ by how she loves me. I pray, Father, for Your will in her life, that she would always seek Your face and abide in our Lord Jesus. Help me to be the kind of friend You have created me to be, always praying for her and modeling a sacrificial life. All this I pray for Your glory and for our good,


A Prayer for an Unbelieving Friend

Father God,

You have placed this friend in my life for a reason. I know, Father, that I am to be a clear and godly reflection of my Lord, Jesus Christ. Help me to do that well, so when my friend sees me, she would want to know why I love as I do. If it’s Your will, Lord, please use me to bring her to Your saving grace. This is not my doing, but it’s all by You and for You. It’s my joy to be Your child. I pray the same for my friend. I thank You and pray in Jesus’ name,


Photo credit: ©Getty Images/PeopleImages

Lisa Baker 1200x1200Lisa Loraine Baker is the multiple award-winning author of Someplace to be Somebody. She writes fiction and nonfiction. In addition to writing for the Salem Web Network, Lisa serves as a Word Weavers’ mentor and is part of a critique group. She also is a member of BRRC. Lisa and her husband, Stephen, a pastor, live in a small Ohio village with their crazy cat, Lewis.