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Power of Friendship
Photo: Linda DuBose
The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote extensively on the philosophy of friendship, describing the nature of genuine friendship, what it is, what it looks like, how it works. Here's how he defined it:

"What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies."

That's quite a powerful description of the spiritual connection that exists in genuine friendship. Connecting with another on that level (where your spirit is in sync, where you share similarities and diversities, where you hold the values of each other respectfully and with admiration) impacts not only your soul but also your whole being.

According to a recent New York Times article, researchers are only now starting to pay attention to the importance of friendship and social networks in overall health. A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends. A large 2007 study showed an increase of nearly 60 percent in the risk for obesity among people whose friends gained weight. And last year, Harvard researchers reported that strong social ties could promote brain health as we age.


"In general, the role of friendship in our lives isn't terribly well appreciated," said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. "There is just scads of stuff on families and marriage, but very little on friendship. It baffles me. Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships."

The Bible describes this power of friendship in a similar way: “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

So how would you rate the kind of friendships you currently have? Do you have friends who help meet your deepest needs and allow you to help meet theirs? Are you paying attention to the people in your life who are close to you, trying to foster and deepen those relationships in meaningful ways?

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By Greg Nelson. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.
Scripture taken from The Living Translation ©.

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