Without a doubt, we all have been blessed—in one way or another—by the gift of friendship. You may be fortunate to have a friend that has been with you over your lifetime. There are those who appear for only a season while others, let’s just say, they show up for a reason. They are the friends whom the Lord uses to teach us lessons; the valuable heart-crushing kinds of lessons. For every friendship I’ve had over the years, I can honestly say each one has made some type of impact in my life. Can’t you? Thinking about the gift of friendship I was reminded of the story of David and Jonathan’s friendship in the book of First Samuel. These boys had a friendship that went deep. So deep, in fact, they made a covenant with one another. When Jonathan’s father, Saul, acted out against David to kill him, Jonathan did whatever he could to protect the life of his friend. Jonathan knew his father’s actions were wrong and regardless of family ties, he defended—even protected David—from his father’s intention to kill him. That’s faithfulness, isn’t it?
As thoughts of friendship danced through my head, I began considering some of the qualities I admire most in those who bless me with their friendship. It turns out—after seeking input through social media—we agree that…
We are thankful for faithful friends who:
- Accept our uniqueness as well as the gifts and callings God has put within us. Jonathon met David after he killed Goliath and the Bible says, “Jonathan was deeply impressed with David—an immediate bond was forged between them and he became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be “David’s number-one advocate and friend” (1 Samuel 18:1, The MSG). We all need a friend who will be our number-one-advocate, don’t we? Those who will believe the best in us, even when they may witness the worst in us. They provide a safe, judgment free zone, where unconditional love is evident. They exemplify the character of God as they freely offer grace, mercy and love. When we accept our friends, unconditionally, through the good, the bad and the ugly, we cultivate authenticity, as we grow to become the best version of who God created us to be. Remember…“Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]”(1 Corinthians 13:7, AMP).
- Build trust with each other through genuine hearts; where confidentiality, compassion and honesty are nurtured. When Jonathan learned of his father’s plans to kill David, he went to David and warned him, but he also confronted his father (1 Samuel 19): “Jonathan brought up David with his father, speaking well of him. “Please,” he said to his father, “don’t attack David. He hasn’t wronged you, has he” (1 Samuel 19:4, The MSG, emphasis added)? David trusted Jonathan with his life when he feared for it the most. And Jonathan spoke well of David, even though his father wasn’t in the mood to hear it. Our faithful friends don’t remain silent when they hear words of attack against a friend. Rather than joining the gossip club, they remain loyal and faithful, asking, “Why do you seek to destroy her? She hasn’t wronged you, has she?” Remember…“He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or gossips about a matter separates intimate friends” (Proverbs 17:9, AMP).
- Challenge us gently yet truthfully. Though the words may bring a sting, a faithful friend doesn’t simply tell us what we want to hear, they tell us what we need to hear. After another attempt on his life, David confronted Jonathan with the facts of the situation by asking, “‘…what wrong have I inflicted on your father that makes him so determined to kill me?’ ‘Nothing,’ said Jonathan. ‘You’ve done nothing wrong. Tell me what you have in mind. I’ll do anything for you’” (1 Samuel 20, 1,2,4, The MSG). It must have been extremely difficult for Jonathan to hear the truth about his father’s secret intentions against his friend. But rather than excusing or denying his father’s behavior he listened to David, and together they came up with a plan to discover the truth; regardless of how difficult it would be to hear. Solomon wrote, “faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6). When a trusted friend offers counsel from a heart of love and concern and it hurts, don’t push them away. Instead, pray and ask God to help you come up with a plan to discover truth together! We may need to sift through emotion and fear as we seek to determine the truth. Allow God to sift. God desires we surround ourselves with friends who can help our faith grow and mature, not remain stagnant. A good question to ask myself is this: do I allow friends to challenge me with advice that’s hard to hear or do I get defensive when they confront an attitude, behavior or choice? Remember...“The way of the [arrogant] fool [who rejects God’s wisdom] is right in his own eyes, but a wise and prudent man is he who listens to counsel” (Proverbs 12:15, AMP).
- Defer, not disown. We value friendships that can withstand the test of time and the seasons of life. Once David and Jonathan came up with a plan that would reveal Saul’s true intentions, they recognized they would need to part ways. Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever’” (1 Samuel 20:42, NIV). After a tearful goodbye, David and Jonathon would each begin traveling their own journey, one that would be different for each of them. At one point “Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God” (1 Samuel 23:16). When we understand friendship has been designed to endure seasons, and reasons, we can accept when our own journey brings about change. Friends that can come together after a hiatus, picking up where they left off, helping one another find strength in God, are refreshing. They are also a necessary gift. Remember...“…Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25 CEB).
- Embrace a positive mindset with the ability to help us surrender to God’s will, regardless of the conditions around us. Every time David wondered why Saul wanted him dead, Jonathan reassured him Saul’s plan would fail, even though this meant Jonathan would not succeed his father at the throne. “Don’t be afraid. My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this” (1 Samuel 23:17, NIV). Jonathan never allowed his own fear of missing out, or losing the crown, to sway him from helping David fulfill God’s plan. When life is hard, and we become trapped within a battle, a faithful friend changes our focus from negative self-focus to faith-filled God-focus. They speak words of faith into our ears that uplift and help us overcome fear. While understanding the severity of our situation, they offer advice based on God’s Word rather than emotion. They’re the ones willing to grab a shovel and start digging when we feel trapped by “de”pits: despair, depression or destruction. Do your friends allow you to remain stuck in negativity? Or do they help lift your eyes to the God Who speaks life into you when you’re struggling to breathe? Remember...“My inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right” (Proverbs 23:16, NIV).
I encourage you, during the month of September, to write the name of A Beloved Companion who exemplifies each characteristic of a faithful friend.
Who A-Accepts your uniqueness?
Who has B-Built trust?
Who C-Challenges you to be the best you possible?
Who D-Deferred rather than disowned?
Who E-Embraces a positive mindset?
What about you? Remember, “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness. But who can find a faithful man (Proverbs 20:6, NKJV, emphasis added)?
Our friends are longing for faithful in…