Friendship

There is nothing more important than the relationships we make in this life. Who was your first friend? I am sure you remember and wish you could go back in time and be friends again. As we grow up we encounter the friendship killer: responsibility. As more responsibility comes up the less time we make for friends. Who has time for friends? From studying scripture we see that the wise make time for friends.
It is almost impossible to talk about friends with out frist considering the family. Friends and family reallly depend a lot on eachother. In marriage if your spouse is all you got, that person has to bear all the burden and can be hazardous in that marriage. Well this is where the friends come in. Friends can be there to set you on the right path, to hear out your arguments or perceived wrongs and really help you to see your role in any issue more clearly. Good Friends are very important for this and other conflicts. Friends are important but don’t take my word for it lets look at what the Bible has to say. When Christ is asked what is the greatest commandment he responds with two relationships:

Mat. 22:37-40 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Christ says that these two relationships are the basis for the entire bible! The first relationship is with God. This is what we call receiving Christ or accepting Christ. What that means is that you recognize that you are a sinner like all of us:

Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God 

and that you want Christs death on the Cross to pay for those sins:

Rom 10:9-11 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

The primary relationship the relationship that is going to make all others work is between you and God. The second relationship is the neighbor. The neighbor is other people. Loving as you love yourself that requires a different kind of love than we are used to. This kind of love is Agape in the greek love. Agape love is a self sacrificial love. SO he is saying that this second relationship requires some pretty good effort on our part, some sacrifice. What kind of sacrifice?

1 Jn. 4:10,19 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 19 We love, because He first loved us.

You have to let this affect you, how can we repeat this verse and not let it affect us. How exactly did He love us? He sacrificed everything for us, he allowed Himself to be cast away from God and Judged for billions of sins that he did not commit. This is the example of sacrificial love given that we are to follow.

How do we know how we are doing with this?

1 Jn. 4:13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

The Holy spirit is there convicting us of our offenses and leading us in the direction of sacrificial love but also need feedback from our friends. We need to recognize that we wont be perfect and neither will our friends. We need to be willing to forgive and show grace just as much as we need it.

Self Reflection: Think of an example of a time when you were a bad friend but received Grace from the person and were able to reconcile and move closer and learn how to be a better friend. This is one way that we learn and become a wise friend.

Loyalty

There are many characteristics that comprise a good friend but none are as important as loyalty.

Prov 17:17 A friend loves at all times,And a brother is born for adversity.

Plainly put a good friend is there. They are there when its not conveinient. They are there when it’s a sacrifice of time money and energy. They are also there when nothing is required of them. A true loyal friend is there and they are willing to take a risk for anothers sake. To be a loyal friend you have to be around:

Prov 27:10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend,
And do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity;
Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.

Prov 18:1 He who separates himself seeks his own desire,
He quarrels against all sound wisdom.

If you are not around you cannot be a loyal friend, so it is important to make the effort to hang in there with someone. Our culture is very isolating and if we allow that to pull us away from our friends it is truly devastating. The more isolated you become the more selfish you become and the less of a friend you can be.

Honesty and Truthfullness

Honesty and truthfulness are also important in a true loyal friend. Whether you are caught in a lie or the one being lied to, dealing with a lie sucks.

Prov 19:5 A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who ]tells lies will not escape.

Sometimes we think that its not that big of a deal or that it will go unnoticed, but we forget that we are accountable to God. Manytimes seemingly little lies come back to haunt us, so it is better to simply not lie and to seek the truth. If youre like me sometimes you tell a story or put a spin on a story that’s not a flat out lie but when caught we should make it right. More deliberate lies are generally for self protection.

Prov 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

A true friend is willing to set aside self protection and tell the truth and in the end is a better friend for it.

Lieing is really saying that you are not willing to stand for thr truth and can be very hazardous in a relationship. In the same vein flattery is also hazardous in a relationship:

Prov 28:23 He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor
Than he who flatters with the tongue.

Prov  29:5 A man who flatters his neighbor
Is spreading a net for his steps.

Using flattery to artificially create the deep emotions of true friendship is a complete mis-use of the love that Christ has given us. This type of flattery is probably most commonly found in a diffuse relationship.

Prov 18:24 A man of too many friends comes to ruin,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

This person is too concerned with being everyones friend that they cannot stick around long enough to build the deep ties required of good friends. On the other hand you can also easily become a clingy friend that pushes people away.

Prov 25:17 Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor’s house,
Or he will become ]weary of you and hate you.

In both the diffuse and clingy relationship flattery is used to manipulate the other person into thinking that they are a better friend than reality reveals. Instead of using flattery to manipulate lets be truthfull honest and thoughtfull friends.

Prov 20:5 A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water,
But a man of understanding draws it out.

Have you ever been around someone like this? This person leaves you knowing that they truly have thought about you before you get together. They remember past conversations and hurts and have prayed and sought counsel all in order to server you. You come away from this kind of a interaction knowing that they got your back. My friend Mark has consistently been this kind of a thoughttfull friend and receiveing his love challengs me to be this kind of a friend. Be this kind of friend also.

Sensativity

Typically men are weak in the area of being a sensitive compassionate friend to another man. We would rather go grab a beer and superficially throw “I love you man” around and ignore real issues and concerns.

Prov 25:20 Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on ]soda,
Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.

Not willing to investigate the troubled heart is saying “I don’t care.” Insensativity can be devastating in a relationship. We will all go through deep hurts and will need someone to be there with a caring sensitive demeanor. Insensativity can also make dealing with conflict difficult

Prov 16:18 Pride goes before destruction,
    a haughty spirit before a fall.

An insensitive person will just fling an issue out and see what happens. If it seems as though the issue may take some work they kindly retract with a “JK.” This is a really passive aggressive way to handle a conflict. Both parties are unsure if anything was really dealt with and the issue will continue to be there and may eventually divide the relationship. It is better to be upfront and truthfull about conflicts and concerns that you see between friends. Dont let your pride keep you from having a deep friendship, admit your wrong doing in any given conflict and seek peace.

Choosing Friends

All of these characteristics; loyalty, truthfulness, thoughtfulness, and sensitivity can all be destroyed very quickly by gossip and slander.

Prov 11:13 A gossip betrays a confidence,
    but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.

Prov 16:28 A perverse person stirs up conflict,
    and a gossip separates close friends.

These are complete trust breakers and do not belong in the Body of Christ. If this is you or you see it, you really need to reflect on the contents of this article and look at what it really means to be a friend and Love people. Be a trustworthy person and stand against this kind of talk!

Just as it is important to choose a spouse it is just as important to choose your friends. Your friends are going to be your number 2 influence in your life. Yes your friends, eventhough you are an adult, do have an affect on you:

Prov 13:20; Walk with the wise and become wise,
    for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Prov 22:24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
    do not associate with one easily angered,

As sophisticated adults we shun the thought that we can still be subject to peer pressure and influence. Don’t be fooled “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor 5:33.) The company we keep can affect us negatively and positively.

Prov 27:17 As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

Choosing friends that will affect us positivley is a very wise decision.

The Good Friend

So what does a good friend look like then? I have been very blessed by being surrounded by great friends in a time of need. I have been diagnosed with inflamatory disease Sarcoidosis. There were alot of tests and  time spent in the diagnosis process that was very difficult. In that time many of my friendships have grown very close. It has helped me to see just how important friendships are and has shown me what kind of a friend I should aspire to be. Seek good friends and be a good friend.

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