One dictionary defines the word “friend” this way:

A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

It also defines the word “love” like this:

1. A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

2. A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.


In the broadest sense “your friends” and “your loved ones” are one and the same. Hopefully they include some blood relatives and immediate family members.  So who are your true friends and loved ones? What if you were tasked with making a list of them? How long would the list be? Usually the word “love” comes into play when you refer to the most important people in your life. Who do you love? This may not be something that is verbalized very often, especially among men towards one another, but nevertheless it is a valid part of this discussion.  Here’s what Jesus said about friendship:


YOU are my friends if YOU do what I am commanding YOU. 15 I no longer call YOU slaves, because a slave does not know what his master does. But I have called YOU friends, because all the things I have heard from my Father I have made known to YOU. 16 YOU did not choose me, but I chose YOU, and I appointed YOU to go on and keep bearing fruit and that YOUR fruit should remain; in order that no matter what YOU ask the Father in my name he might give it to YOU. (John 15:14-16 NWT)


Jesus also referred to his friends as his family members this way:


So someone said to him: “Look! Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak to you.” 48 As an answer he said to the one telling him: “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And extending his hand toward his disciples, he said: “Look! My mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matthew 12:47-50 NWT)


In light of this I began to personally make a list of my own. I asked myself: Who are the people that really matter in my life? Who are the people that I would want to have regular contact and communication with and couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to see or speak with? After couching it in these essential terms, I found my list was actually much smaller than I had anticipated. As Witnesses we usually belong to a particular congregation, and in a broad sense all members would be our “friends”. However, is this really the case? Would your list really be that long? A wise older brother that died many years ago had me read Proverbs 18:24 once, which says:

There exist companions disposed to break one another to pieces, but there exists a friend sticking closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24 NWT)

Then he said: “In my entire life in the truth, I can only count two- maybe three people that this scripture applies to.” In the old Youth Book (It was bright red) it has a chapter on friends, and compares them to diamonds. They are that rare. The reason we may want to make out this list is so we can have clarity of thought about several things. Who can we trust? And what we are going to do as a member of the “conscious class”? Will we stay in the organization? Will we leave and walk away in one quick step? Can we do something in between these two extremes? Do we want to?

But before we can delve into that, we need to clear the air about one misconception.



Awake! Magazine[1] once said this about love towards your children:
From Our Readers

I was surprised by the statement in the opening paragraph of the second article of the series “What Has Happened to Values?” (June 8, 2003) It stated: “Among the greatest gifts parents can give to their children are unconditional love and a set of values that the parents live by.” When children and adults act as if they are entitled to one another’s love, values will always decline.

K. B., United States

“Awake!” responds: The phrase “unconditional love” was used to suggest that parents should not imply that their love for their children is fragile or tenuous—that it might be withdrawn at any moment because of some failing on the child’s part or that the child is obliged to earn parental love by doing everything just right.—Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21.

So the phrase doesn’t always have to be used literally. The Awake writer didn’t mean it that way. I have said that I have unconditional love for my children out loud, right to them. Did I mean it? Of course. But with nearly all things, our freedom as imperfect beings is relative, not absolute.  Otherwise this statement would be true:


“Even though you are a highly intelligent mass murderer, as well as a serial child abuser, it doesn’t matter- I still love you!”


We would probably all agree that it would be wrong to love a person like that no matter who they are. So Is God’s love for us unconditional? When you analyze it thoughtfully, it actually isn’t[2]. We quoted earlier that Jesus considers us his friends IF we do what he has commanded us. If we reject him- if we willfully sin, is he still going to be our friends?  Even though this is a popular buzz-word today, we have to be careful how we use it.  The thrust of this post though is not about “unconditional love” and we have not even begun to scratch the surface of the psychology behind this phrase. By necessity we will now leave it for another discussion.



So I recently wrote out my list.  And then I categorized these precious people in my life.

A generic version might look like this:





The categories should help you understand the importance of such a list. How many will still be your friends and loved ones next month? Next year? Are they our friends because of how many meetings we go to? Whether we auxiliary pioneer or not? Do they love us because we believe and see the world in the exact same way as them? Or will they stop loving us if our viewpoints change in any way?

That’s the big question that we need to figure out isn’t it…






[1] Awake 2004 2/8 p. 30



Rating 4.75 out of 5


9 Comments on Figuring Out Who Our True Friends Are

  1. greybeard says:

    Hi JJ,

    Good article,

    I hope I am on your list of true friends as you are on mine 😉


  2. JJ says:

    A total “bromance” ensues…


  3. DanielB says:


    It has usually proven that I know who are friends toward me, by the way that this friendship word first comes out of their mouth. I am saying here that I now note how it is said.

    Friendship goes in more than one direction.

    One tells me, “I am your friend”, when maybe he is and maybe not so much.

    One says, “You are my friend.” That is probably so.

    And then there is the, “But I am your friend.”

    But when Jesus refers to “friends of the bridegroom”, I know he means me.

    I don’t want to lead anyone away from the point that will be drawn on here, so help me out JJ.


  4. Amos says:

    Just a thought….we have;

    1) the Groom

    2) the Bride

    3) friends of the Bride

    Would some one like to elaborate on this? Maybe a new thread.


  5. DanielB says:

    A bridegroom is either a newly married man, or one who is about to marry, (as if to say, the bride’s groom). It does seem like an oxymoron at first glance, but we speak this modern fandangled English stuff. :)


  6. Alden says:

    Yes, beloved ones, unconditional love! To me, the most amazing example of this in the Bible is the relationship between David and his son Absalom. David was a man near Jehovah’s heart, while Absalom to us was a scallywag that none of us would have given even the time of day to – and yet; David made such a scene over him that Joab had to appeal to his sense of justice to make him get over it and back to his duties. Were David’s sentiments wrong, a man close to Jehovah’s heart? David, as a father, knew that his son wasn’t what he was by accident. David never tried to dodge his responsibilities. Prompted by his unconditional love, he tried to do ALL he could for his son at ALL times – what no parent should forget if their children are dfed. The WTS maintains that the best thing you can do for a dfed person is to do NOTHING. Can this be called love at all? I would call it the highest form of hate, which could be applied to that mass murderer and child abuser, but not to a child that simply decided to go another way.


  7. Daniel says:

    I disagree with the conclusion about unconditional love. I think you’re confusing love with approval. I’m sure some parents still LOVE their children that do things that are wrong and of which they DIS-APPROVE. Love that is conditional isn’t much love at all. Something to think about.


  8. JJ says:


    You make a good point. A parent could still have love for their child even if they were a mass murderer. This highlights the complexity of the phrase “unconditional love”. It has many shades of meaning and cannot be confined to a single definition.

    This is why the article says at one point: “The thrust of this post though is not about unconditional love and we have not even begun to scratch the surface of the psychology behind this phrase.”


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