Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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My friend always expects me to help her in everything she asks for. When I do not do it she hurts my feelings by saying insulting words. I get so angry, so how do I deal with her?

Friendship is a vital part of people's lives. Rarely do we find someone who does not have at least a couple of friends. People may learn lifelong lessons from friendship, grow in our Lord Jesus Christ through friends, get in trouble because of friends and become very close to friends. We need to understand the three types of friendship, what the Holy Bible teaches about friendship, and the characteristics of true friendship. We also want to know what the fathers of the Church taught about friendship. You must also know what kind of friend you need to be.

So what are the three types of friendship?
The first type is called acquaintances. They are people that you know. They may be fellow students at school or coworkers at work, or they may be acquaintances of your family. It is probably a very superficial relationship. We cannot really call these types of people friends, but more preferably to call them acquaintances or colleagues.

The second type may be a friend that harms you. This type of friendship is one that wants to take from you all the time. Whether it is money, prestige, help or many other things; in other words they are selfish and take advantage of you. They may also be harmful in that they give wrong advice and teach how to solve problems in a wrong or evil way. They may lead their friends to do things that are against their conscience or against their faith. Look at the example of Job and his friends in the Old Testament. Job calls his friends, "miserable comforters," because instead of assisting him to get over his distress, they made him more uncomfortable by their words.

The third type is a true friend. This is what we want to concentrate on. There is a nice motto which says, "Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are." Your friends reveal you, and your personality. Unfortunately sometimes people will judge us by the people that we hang around with. A true friend is one that gives and not takes. Good friends challenge each other to goodness. A true friend shows continual loyalty, as was the case with David and Jonathan in the Old Testament. Jonathan helped him even at the cost of Saul's anger and Jonathan's own claim to the throne (1 Samuel 18:1 - 23:1S-18). True Friends are also willing to sacrifice and persevere with each other; "Greater love has no one than this than to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13) Even if their friends do something wrong, they are willing to forgive them, lead them to repentance, and teach them in humility what is right, without hurting their feelings.
Let us look at some verses in the Holy Bible that speak about friendship.
"A friend loves at all times" (Proverbs 17:17). So, love is a vital part of a true friendship, and as we said that true love or friendship is the one that gives and not takes.

"A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). So, we should not expect people to be nice to us if we treat them badly or never smile.

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (Proverbs 27:6). This means that a true friend will always persevere with you and even if he hurts you at times, it will be for your own benefit. If it is by mistake he is ready to apologize.
What do the Church fathers say concerning this subject?
Let us see what we can learn from Saint John Chrysostom. He says: "He who loves, ought so to love, that if he were asked even for his soul or life, and it were possible, he would not refuse it.

Truly a faithful friend is the medicine of life (Ecc 6:16). Truly a faithful friend is a strong defense (Ecc 6:14). For what will not a genuine friend perform? Though you should name infinite treasures, none of them is comparable to a genuine friend. For him he prays for the same things as for himself. I speak of spiritual friends, who prefer nothing to friendship. Such was St. Paul, who would willingly have given his soul, even though not asked..."
Finally, what kind of a friend do you need to be? Simply speaking, the person should be a good example to his friend. He should be leading a holy life that would influence his friend and bring him to our Lord Jesus Christ. He should be patient and not self-seeking. He must pull his friend upwards and not allow his friend, to pull him downwards. If your friend hurts your feelings, let her know, and show her how and what a good friend should be. Honest discussion between true friends should resolve any conflict. Let her know how you feel exactly. You may start your discussion with prayer. In general one must be willing to listen to his friends, in order that that may listen to him.
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