Read This Week’s Passage: 1 Samuel 18:1–5

The Human Need for Friendship

The saying goes, “Blood is thicker than water.” Yet Solomon exclaims that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24). He must have experienced a strong, close friendship, or perhaps he was reminiscing about his father’s friendship with Jonathan. While we cannot pick the family we are born into, we can pick our friends (who become like family), so it is essential that we choose wisely.

Friendship constitutes one of the most important types of relationship in our lives. Sharing mutual affection with someone increases our chances of being happy and finding fulfillment. It is no wonder, since we were created as social, emotional beings who thrive in healthy, close relationships (cf. Gen. 2:18). Think about it: even the most antisocial person still enjoys the occasional interaction with a like-minded individual.

Not every friendship develops into a deep relationship or lasts forever, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We gain friends and sometimes lose friends, but there are some friendships that last a lifetime. In our need for friendship, we sometimes end up forming superficial companionships. In his Nicomachean Ethics, the Greek philosopher Aristotle categorizes friendship into three classes: (1) utility friendship—based on how you can benefit from the other; (2) pleasure friendship—based on the pleasant qualities of the other or enjoyment of each other’s company; and (3) goodness friendship—based on mutual respect and admiration. The first two can be fleeting, because needs and pleasures are bound to change over time. But goodness, on the other hand, is an enduring attribute. It may take time to develop these friendships, but they are more fulfilling and lasting.