A companion loves some agreeable qualities which a man may possess, but a friend loves the man himself. (James Boswell)
Agreeable qualities? What specifically are 'agreeable' qualities? I believe most of us possess these qualities, but maybe don't put a specific 'name' to them. Things like listening to the heart behind the words and then meeting the needs of the one speaking those words might be considered an 'agreeable quality', but what other qualities would you put on that list if you were asked? Would you ever stop to consider being able to bring up a 'disagreeable' subject in a loving way without really creating an atmosphere of disagreement as an 'agreeable' quality? I would. A good friend is able to do more than just bring out the 'good' stuff in you - they are able to bring out the stuff that you know is there, but haven't been willing to deal with!
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17)
In the Amplified Bible, this passage actually reads: As iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion]. In other words, being a friend with 'agreeable qualities' means that you won't be afraid to influence the life of another - to bring out into discussion the things that otherwise would have been left untouched by others too afraid or too selfish to take the time to discover in each other. I like how the Expanded Bible translates this passage: As iron sharpens iron, so people ·can improve each other [sharpen their friends]. We actually improve each other when we allow this freedom of discussion to occur.
Don't overlook what Boswell pointed out - a friend loves the man himself. If you count me as your friend, you love more than the things we do together - you love me, complete with my quirks and my qualities. Too many times we do little more in relationship than another our qualities! If you want to be a good friend to another, you won't be afraid of others seeing your quirks. In counseling terms, this is called being transparent. Good friends have a way of peeling back the layers until the individuals are free to be exactly who they are - free of 'cover-ups' and 'facades'.
The 'man himself' is not always all that easy to love, is he? What we are - the complete package of quirks and qualities - is sometimes a little hard to appreciate, much less love. You probably have family members you say are kind of 'quirky' - you call them 'dysfunctional'. You might also have acquaintances you call a little bit too 'high maintenance'. Regardless of how you apply the label here, what you are saying is that their qualities are easy to live with - their quirks are not! A good friend is able to do more than appreciate the qualities - they are able to appreciate even the quirks of an individual. I don't know about you, but I want people in my life that appreciate both and help me work through the things that are a little 'quirky' in my life. Just sayin!