This is a expanded repost of a post I've done before about friendship. True friendship are one of our most treasured gifts, and I am truly blessed to count my readers as friends. Happy Friendship Day!
As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.1 Samuel 18:1-4
Two boys collected a bucket of nuts underneath a great tree inside a cemetery on the outskirts of town. When the bucket was full, they sat down out of sight to divide the spoils.
“One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me,” said one boy, as the other watched intently. Their bucket was so full that some of the nuts had spilled out and rolled toward the fence.
It was dusk, and another boy came riding along the road on his bicycle. As he passed, he thought he heard voices from inside the cemetery. He slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard, “One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me.”
The boy with the bike knew just what was happening, and his face went ghostly white. “Oh my,” he shuddered. “It’s Satan and the Lord dividing souls at the cemetery!”
He jumped back on his bike and rode off, desperately looking for a friend. Just around the bend he met an old, scowling man who hobbled along with a cane.
“Come with me, quick!” said the boy. “You won’t believe what I heard! Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up the souls!”
The man said, “Beat it, kid, can’t you see it’s hard for me to walk?” When the boy insisted, though, the man hobbled to the cemetery. When they arrived at the fence, they heard, “One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me.”
Ready to have a little fun, the old man whispered, “Boy, you’ve been tellin’ the truth. Let’s go inside, and see if we can see the Devil himself!”
The child was horrified, but the old man was already taking his first step toward the gate. Then they heard, “Okay, that’s the last of them. That’s all. Now let’s go get those two nuts by the fence, and we’ll be done.” They say the old guy made it back to town five minutes ahead of the boy! More than likely, he was looking for a friend.
Most people are constantly looking for friends. Some people are desperately looking for friendship. At times we all stand frozen with fear by the cemetery fence, so to speak, when life shakes us to the core. At times the legs don’t support, and a healthy heart nearly breaks. At times we can barely muster a prayer, and when it comes out, it’s a plea for a friend.
Friends can be a wonderful blessing. A source of comfort in times good and bad and a source of good counsel when we need advice or a sympathetic ear. It is not always easy to know who our true friends are. The greatest true friend we will always have is Jesus, and if you are lucky (and I count myself as very lucky), I have a number of true friends who love and care for me. We’ve all heard that old saying, “You can choose your friends but not your family…” Maybe that’s why some friendships feel so natural; we choose each other.
It seems pretty important to God that we have good friendships. The Bible is full of examples of this. Think about the amazing friendship of Jonathan and David. Jonathan warned David that his life was in danger at the hands of Jonathan’s own father, King Saul. This warning allowed David to take action and avoid harm, and ultimately this act of true friendship allowed David to take the throne, which was God’s plan.
The Bible describes true friendship as when one will be honest even when it hurts. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” This means that a true friend of yours will tell you what you need to hear, even if it hurts, instead of flattering you all of the time. I’ve definitely felt wounded by a friend, but it’s usually because I needed to be set straight about something I had done or planned on doing. Our friends care for us, and while we all want to make good decisions, sometimes we don’t. Perhaps that’s why intelligent people in powerful positions tend to surround themselves with trusted friends who can advise them.
Good friends will have a positive influence on you. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says that “two are better than one,” and goes on to tell how life is much better when you have a friend. I can’t even count the times over the years that I have sought to be a better person thanks to the example of trusted friends. In turn, bad friends will have a negative influence on you. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:33 that “bad company will corrupt someone with good character.” Many people make the mistake of associating with the wrong crowd, and it is one of the warnings parents try and give their children all through their developing years and even into adulthood. There’s a Spanish proverb that he would use to teach this lesson, “Dime con quién andas, y te dire quién eres. / Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are.”
I can’t help but think how Jesus, who could have chosen to complete His earthly ministry all by himself, instead chose to surround himself with a group of friends. For three years, they lived together, ate together, celebrated together, and mourned together. I also really like the fact that when you look at these twelve men Jesus hand-picked to follow Him, they were just real guys. Jesus could have chosen men of influence, who came with tons of money and education. Instead he chose fishermen and a tax collector! Again, Jesus–even in a subtle way–gives us the perfect example of how important it is to choose friendships wisely.
Of course the ultimate example of friendship is that Jesus chose to sacrifice Himself for us. John 15:12-14 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” As I sit and enjoy my coffee this morning, I am prayerfully thankful that God has blessed me, over the years, with such good friendships. Some of these friends are local and some are distant…but I love them and they love me no matter where we are in the world.