All of us know people who are the "popular ones", the "in crowd", "nerds", "losers", "cast outs", "weirdos", "jocks", "blonds" etc. and all of us have been in different categories during our lives. Usually the ones in the "popular" and "in crowd" categories had more friends, hence the category title, but do they really have real friends? We've all watched it happen... the popular cheerleader gains weight and gets abandoned, or the football jock that gets injured and can't play anymore etc. I am getting to a point here, so stick with me.
Proverbs 17:17 says "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.". I never realized how many real friends I do have until the trials arose. The injuries, the family trials, the moves, loneliness, unemployment, and just plain every day struggles. Each time friends that I thought I had (categories 1, 2 and occasionally 3) would disappear, and friends that I didn't realize I had would appear out of the woodwork.
But a friend's love doesn't just come in the form of encouragement, hugs and chicken soup, there is also tough love. Now, call me weird, but I am a fan of tough love. Proverbs 27:5-6 says "Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.". I'm not saying that I only feel loved when I'm rebuked, that would be REALLY weird, but that I have come to discover who has the guts to stand up to my strong will when I am in the wrong, even when I don't ask.
All of this said to say that sometimes it takes friends from the first 2 or 3 categories burning you to realize how valuable the others are. This hit home for me when I was recently severely burned by a relatively new relationship. The hurt, pain, and realization of it all proved beneficial in clearing my head as to who my real friends are, and the ones who's relationships I can always stand on without fear of being ditched or dropped. So "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Hebrews 10:24