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What is friendship?

The Greek philosopher Aristotle offers a helpful classification of  the many and varied relationships that fall under the category of “friend.” He defines 3 types of friendships:


• Those based on common interests or mutual pursuits – e.g., fans of a sports team, members of an association or club, golf partners, etc.

• Those based on the benefits or mutual advantages that come from friendship – e.g., networking in business, teammates on a football team, colleagues at work, neighbors who watch over each other’s houses.

• Those based on friendship for its own sake, a friendship of character; based on nothing more than time together, regardless of mutual interests or benefits to be received.

The first two categories are easy for me (and I think for many of us). The third of Aristotle’s categories is the most difficult for me but it seems what is most clearly demanded in “loving my neighbor.”

What are your thoughts?



I wish I had more of number 3- in fact I wish I had more of all 3-
Although the 3rd reminds me of girls I went to high school with, not sure if that would go in a different category

Maybe the 3rd is like an overflow of the love God gives to us.

Hey Mike,
i agree. the third one is hard to swallow. An issue is presented because most people don't know their neighbor. He completely takes us out of our comfort zone and causes us to have a Jesus moment and dive into someone else life. As children....i know we are called to love thy neighbor as thy self....another issue, many don't love themselves. its a tough one and reminds me of the work we must do with establishing a great relationship with ourselves.

The first two do seem much more easy or comfortable because there is not much, if anything at all, that one must sacrifice in thes relationships, and where one does have to sacrifice something, there is a hope of some kind of return on the investment. However, in the third definition of friendship, one must sacrifice time and energy while expecting nothing in return, so it seems from Aristotle's definition. If this is, however, the type of friendship that Jesus is calling us to in "loving my neighbor as myself" then there must be some kind of spiritual benefit, probably for both parties involved; a benefit that nourishes our souls and the souls of others. So in the end, maybe we are really robbing ourselves of spiritual nourishment by not seeking more of these types of friendhsips.

the first two for me are constantly something I run into with ministry and work. The third one is very rare for me. I have one friend that fits that exactly. Complete opposites but he is one of the closest friends i have. But loving your neighbor is something, for me personally, that I find easy to do. It is the opposite that is more difficult for me: loving those that are in the categories of 1 and 2. Because it is only based on what you give them or what they give you which in detail could be a good and could be a bad thing.

Indeed...often it is proximity that makes #1 and #2 friendships easier.The work comes with the #3s...and those friends are ofter fewer and farther between, but they are what give life richness, splendor and joy.

I find that the older I get, the more empty the first two seem... the more I crave #3... but it IS a tough balance because it requires so much investment. So between kids, schedules, etc. it is unfortunately too "easy" for it to be "too hard" to fit in and gets put off. But then I guess that's what makes true friendship so special - to invest and feel invested IN... for no other reason than the cherished friendship itself!

This article made me think of John 15:15

"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."

Any thought on which type of friendship Jesus was talking about? All of them? Primarily 2-3?

Are the first two really "friends"; or are they acquaintances - people we are acquainted with for some mutual reason? To me, friendship in its purest form is much deeper and requires trust, vulnerability, a dropping of pride and much more. People from the first two categories may transition into friends over time through the investment in relationship. Real friendship is a lot of work, scary and hard - but is probably one of God's greatest gifts...friends who love each other enough to help each other grow into the men and women God desire us to be...we are blessed to have just a handful.

Aren't we over-analyzing? In the end, the only thing that really matters is that WE LOVE--that has nothing to do with anyone else. Being a friend and having a friend are WAY different!!

Tough issue for men...I'm no different. One verse that the Lord gave me is "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship [friendship?] with one another..." 1 John. This issue, of course, is too complex to pigeon-hole, but I found that I was convicted of areas of my life that I was compromising with God...perhaps affecting the way I loved others. I have plenty of #1 & #2, the #3 I've had once in my life (wives don't count), and never again since.

The church is severely lacking #3.

How about the notion that #3 - friendship for it's own sake - is not so much about a demand to love our neighbors but is the fruit of what it is to be fully human. Michael Kors Purses Outlet Michael Kors Outlet Online Gucci Shoes Outlet Online North Face Clearance Beats By Dre Pro Coach Factory Outlet Coach Bags Store Online Coach Outlet Online Coach Factory Online Coach Outlet Online Coach Outlet Coach Factory Outlet Online Coach Outlet Coach Outlet

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husband to Justina; father to Nathan, Hannah and Seth; pastor and teacher living in Southern California; author of 4 books, the latest of which just was released and is called 'Why The Bible Matters.'