“I thought she was my friend!” I balled to my mother as she tried to console her 11-year old daughter crumbled to tears in her lap. “Why did she do that?”
It had been the worst day I could imagine…well, as sixth-grader anyways. My so-called best friend, Becky*, had done the un-thinkable: she humiliated me in front of EVERYONE at school. And I wasn’t sure our friendship could survive such a fatal blow to my ego. “Every stage of life has them, Sarah.” My mother continued, “Fair-weather friends. When life is good and everyone is happy, your friendship is wonderful and pleasant, but as soon as those storm clouds come rolling in, the fair-weather friends split. What you have to decide is what kind of friend going to be back. A true one? Or a fair-weather one?”
My mother’s truth that day has remained with me as I grew up. And as much as I want to believe that fair-weather friends only existed in the immature locker rooms of middle school, they unfortunately make their appearances in all stages of life, middle school, high school, college, and sadly, even beyond.
What we have to evaluate though isn’t whether or not we have fair-weather friends shadowing the halls of our friends list, or whether the Becky of your life is indeed a fair-weather friend. If they are, don’t worry…you’ll know, just wait for the storm. As my mother says, as soon as it comes, the fair-weather friends will make themselves clearly known.
Our responsibility, however, is to evaluate if WE are the fair-weather friend to others. Luckily, Paul gives us a great litmus test for such a task by defining what true biblical love is. Because if you’re not loving, then you’re not being a good friend. And if you’re not being a good friend, you’re, by default, a fair-weather one.
- Don’t Be Impatient.
(1 Cor. 13:4)
Patience is not an easy thing to attain. I know for me, the longer it takes me to put patience into practice, the more impatient I seem to become. And yet this is the first word Paul uses to describe love. Love is patient. The word Paul uses for patient is makrothymei and it means “to exhibit internal AND external control in difficult circumstances.” When your friend does something that annoys you or frustrates you, what is your initial reaction?
A fair weather friend will express their annoyance with a look, a tone, passive aggressive behavior, or avoidance. A true biblical friend will keep her cool. She will either accept that behavior as part of the package that makes up her friend, or she will address the behavior in a biblical way. So let us ask ourselves, in light of Paul’s definition, do we love? Are we, as friends, exhibiting control when circumstances are frustrating the living daylights out of us? Are we persevering not just on the outside where our friends can see our reactions, but also on the inside where they can’t? If we want to NOT be a fair-weather friend, Scripture says, we must be patient.
- Don’t Be Mean.
(1 Cor. 13:4-5)
I realize this sounds like elementary advise. I mean…be a good friend and don’t be mean…it’s not rocket science. But in all seriousness, love is kind, it’s not rude. And let’s be honest with ourselves, there are times when we can quickly spout off to even our best of friends, we can act unpleasant, rude and sometimes even down right nasty! A fair weather friend will get hurt by her friend and retaliate and hurt in return. A true biblical friend when in hurt will show mercy. After all, that is what kindness means here, “to show mercy.”
- Don’t Be Jealous, or Try to Make Your Friends Jealous.
Earlier today I was on Facebook and saw that two of my good friends were going to go shopping together while I was going to be out of town on vacation. Instead of being excited for them though, do you know what I did? Announced my jealousy for all our friends to see, at least our mutual ones. As girls, jealousy is sometimes difficult for us to master. How many times have we looked at another girl and thought, “I’d love to have her purse, those shoes, her hair…okay, and maybe her boyfriend, too!” We’re such comparative creatures. It’s partly why we shop. But jealousy is the calling card of the fair-weather friend. When a fair weather friend hears something good happening in another friend’s life, instead of being happy for her, she will want to have that thing in her own life. Paul says that true biblical love (which is the bedrock of true biblical friendship) is going to be void of jealousy. When a true biblical friend hears something good happening in another friend’s life, she will rejoice with her friend because a true friend is not a jealous one. And they also do not seek to make others jealous of them because, “Love does not envy or boast.”
- A Biblical Friend Bears All Things.
The word Paul uses here to characterize how love relates to others is the word steg?. It means to endure, to put up with an annoyance or difficulty. It literally means “holding fast like a water tight vessel.” In my words….Love is stubborn. But not stubbornly difficult, stubbornly loving. Like Rocky in the fighting rink, no matter how many times he gets punched in the face, he’s going to get back up again. Why? Because he’s Rocky, and he’s tenaciously stubborn. True biblical friendship is the same way. It stays until the bitter end, and then some. A fair weather friend shrinks back when tough times rise. They lose sight of the friendship at stake and focus solely on the overwhelming problems causing them to jump ship. So when it comes to us and our friendships, do we bear all things? Do we put up with annoyance or difficulty? Or when the storm clouds rumble in the distance do we call it quits like a fair-weather friend?
- A Biblical Friend Believes All Things.
Biblical friendship finds the fine balance between naivety and trust. Paul uses the word pisteu? to describe love and it means to think to be true, to believe. True biblical friendship implies trust, faith, and belief to the extent of complete trust. It doesn’t allow doubt to cloud its judgment or decisions. It believes good of that friend. In other words, when a situation arises where it seems that your friend may have done something to hurt you, a true friend believes better and trusts that there is an explanation. She goes to her friend to talk it out, because she is an ultimate believer, not a fair-weather friend. A fair weather friend will jump to conclusions without finding out the real story.
- A Biblical Friend Hopes All Things.
True biblical friendship looks at their friendships with great anticipation. Elpiz? here means to hope for, an attitude of looking forward to, usually, a trusting or a confident hope, to expect, to look forward to something happening. A friend who loves is a friend who hopes. When her friend is going through a hard time, she is encouraging her, hoping for her, expecting to see God work. She has a positive outlook. A fair weather friend doesn’t have hope in the friendship. So when a difficult time comes, the fair weather friend heads to Splitsville because there is no reason to stay, she has no hope.
- A Biblical Friend Endures All Things.
Endure (hypomen?) means to resist, stand firm by holding one’s ground, endure despite opposition, persevere in spite of difficulty. Much like steg?, hypomen? is like the Engerizer Bunny. It just keeps going and going and going. Because it lasts. It doesn’t fade away. When it comes to friendships, there are natural waves of life that affect them, a move, a job change, marital status change, and friends shift. People who you were once close to, you don’t see as often, and new friends are introduced. A natural flow occurs, but this doesn’t mean that you stop all together being their friend, or loving them. Because love and biblical friendships endure.
- A Biblical Friend NEVER Fails.
Fair weather friends are unreliable because you never know if they are really going to be there for you or not. Like the weather, they change as quick. But a biblical friend is always a friend, regardless of the past or the future because true biblical friendship never ceases, stops, or becomes inadequate. The word Paul uses here for fail is pipt? and it literally means to fall down. It implies failure. Real love, real genuine biblical love never stops. It never ends. A friend is nasty to you? Real love keeps going. A friend betrays you? Real love doesn’t stop. Why? Because real love never fails.
Fair weather friends come and go in our lives, and there’s really nothing we can do about that. We can’t change other people. We aren’t responsible for how they treat us, but we can do something about the way we are being a friend to others. When evaluating the type of friend we are being to others, whether biblical or fair-weathered, we must look at these behaviors and ask ourselves, do we love? Because if we don’t love ultimately then we don’t love biblically.
Friendships, true biblical friendships, are a wonderful gift from God, and I am so grateful for the friends God has placed in my life, specifically Gabs, Katie, and Diane. And if I want to be a good friend to them, and to all the friends God has given me, I can’t worry about how they are treating me. I must focus on how I am treating them. My mother’s little nugget of wisdom still applies to my life some 20 years later. When life is good and everyone is happy, a fair weather friendship is wonderful and pleasant, but as soon as those storm clouds come rolling in, the fair-weather friends split. What you have to decide is what kind of friend going to be back. A true one? Or a fair weather one?
Are you a Fair-Weather Friend?