“I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun!”
— Charles R. Swindoll
How are you doing in the friendship department these days? Has the social distancing and isolation of the last year put a strain on your friendships? While this may be true for many of us, it also has given us a chance to discover which friends we can really count on when things are tough, and how much our friends can count on us! (I may need to work on that!)
Real friendship can be hard! Proverbs 17:17a says, “A friend loves at all times.” This is a tall order to fill. Sometimes a friend can really tick me off, or disappoint me, or hurt my feelings, or just leave me out of the loop – wondering what I have done wrong. Hard!
To have friends, it is said, you must be willing to be a friend.
What must we know?
We need to know that being in fellowship is part of God’s plan. It is our natural state. Being a loner or avoiding others is not how we were created. Being in fellowship is a human need, like air, food or water. Without fellowship, we cannot live a full and healthy life. Billy Graham once wrote, “The human soul is a lonely thing. It must have the assurance of companionship. Left entirely to itself, it cannot really enjoy anything.” We were designed to be friends. In the very beginning, God said, “It is not good that man should dwell alone” (Genesis 2:18). His creation of Eve was the beginning of human companionship. God’s people are a body, and we are not intended to function separately, not intended to be unconcerned for one another. God invented our need for friendship.
We need to know that being friends takes work. Have you been actively prospecting for new friendships or nurturing those you already have? We read in 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” Most of us can relate to the growing metaphor. If we don’t plant, water, weed, and harvest our gardens – and our friendships – may not develop well, or they may simply “die on the vine.” You may be thinking, “But with the pandemic, ______,” and I hear you. However, we have managed to use Zoom, Facetime and other platforms to facilitate other things we “need” or we deem important. We also can use different skills to help us fulfill our friendship responsibilities.
We need to know that cherished friendships are worth it! True friends help to heighten our joy and will celebrate with us. True friends encourage our obedience to God and help to model that obedience. True friends expose the sins that distance us from God. True friends draw us back into the presence of God when we are too spiritually weak to do it for ourselves. True friends love us as a way to glorify God—true friendship is a mission of love.
My favorite example of true friendship can be found in Luke 5:18-19.
18 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, 19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. “
In these two short verses we don’t get a lot of information. Looking closer though, true friendship is revealed. We don’t know if the afflicted man is a believer. We don’t know that he even wanted to be healed. What we do know is that his friends desire his healing enough that they grab him – bed and all – to take him to Jesus, the Healer. Not able to get their friend into the building, they haul him up onto the roof – at some bodily risk, tear tiles off the roof to make a hole – at some legal or financial risk, and then lower their friend down into Jesus’ midst. We must ask ourselves, “Can I be that kind of friend?”
As believers, we find our true model of friendship in Jesus:
- Always available to us, never begging off until a more convenient time.
- Always understanding how we are feeling, (even when we may not understand it ourselves.)
- Always holding us accountable for our actions and our words.
- Always desiring the best for us and willing to help us get there.
Finding and keeping a good friend is difficult. Being a good friend is difficult. It can take a lifetime of trial and error to get it right. In the meantime, we do have one friend we can count on to guide, comfort, or rebuke us as we hone our friendship skills.
Have you met my BFF, Jesus?
Written by Rich Silveira
Retired NCA Teacher