Sunday, April 30, 2017

President Ezra Taft Benson on the fellowship of true friends

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1943, and served as the 13th President of the Church from 1985 until his death in 1994 at age 94.
"The fellowship of true friends who can hear you out, share your joys, help carry your burdens, and correctly counsel you is priceless. For one who has been in the prison of depression, the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith have special meaning when he said, 'How sweet the voice of a friend is; one token of friendship from any source whatever awakens and calls into action every sympathetic feeling' (TPJS 134).
"Ideally, your family ought to be your closest friends. Most important, we should seek to become the friend of our Father in heaven and our brother Jesus the Christ. What a boon to be in the company of those who edify you. To have friends, one should be friendly. Friendship should begin at home and then be extended to encompass the home teacher, quorum leader, bishop, and other Church teachers and leaders. To meet often with the Saints and enjoy their companionship can buoy up the heart."
- Ezra Taft Benson, "Do Not Despair," Ensign, November 1974, p. 65
Click here to read or listen to the full article

We come to appreciate the gift of "true friends" often only when we face a time of challenge or need, when that friendship is expressed in a variety of ways, such as carrying a burden or correcting a mistake. A true friend will rescue, sustain, and encourage. But a true friend also shares our joys in special ways too. They are there, willing and eager to help and bless, regardless of the time and need:

Joseph Smith knew the difference between a true friend and a pretend friend, a partial friend, an occasional friend. He saw many leave or turn against him when challenges came.

I liked President Benson's insights into the sources of our closest friends: Deity, family, church associates. Friendship in those settings is strengthened as we "meet often with the Saints and enjoy their companionship" as well as by our own attitudes at friendliness.

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