Like most young kids, my son, Danny, loved to play at the playground when he was young. Oftentimes, after being at the playground for only 10 minutes, he would come running back over to me, excitedly asking, “Can me and my friend go play together on the swings?!”
“What friend?” I would reply, knowing I had only brought him and his sister to the playground.
“That one!” as he turned to point out a boy he had just met. After a couple swings together on the monkey bars, they were “friends.”
But true friendship runs much deeper than that which marks childhood. It is not just happy, cozy feelings. True friendship is in no way self-centered. It is laying “down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). Consider the following example of true, costly friendship:
Out of the furnaces of war come many true stories of sacrificial friendship. One such story tells of two friends in World War I, who were inseparable. They had enlisted together, trained together, were shipped overseas together, and fought side-by-side in the trenches. During an attack, one of the men was critically wounded in a field filled with barbed wire obstacles, and he was unable to crawl back to his foxhole. The entire area was under a withering enemy crossfire, and it was suicidal to try to reach him. Yet his friend decided to try. Before he could get out of his own trench, his sergeant yanked him back inside and ordered him not to go. “It’s too late. You can’t do him any good, and you’ll only get yourself killed.”
A few minutes later, the officer turned his back, and instantly the man was gone after his friend. A few minutes later, he staggered back, mortally wounded, with his friend, now dead, in his arms. The sergeant was both angry and deeply moved. “What a waste,” he blurted out. “He’s dead and you’re dying. It just wasn’t worth it.”
With almost his last breath, the dying man replied, “Oh, yes, it was, Sarge. When I got him, the only thing he said was, ‘I knew you’d come, Jim!’ ”
One of the true marks of friendship is that it is costly. Friendship, by nature, involves sacrifice.