Qualities of a Good Friend
On Aug. 11, my eldest brother, Ernest, died while he was resting in his recliner at home. He passed away suddenly and peacefully. With his passing, I have lost a true friend.
Allow me to share with you some qualities of friendship I shared with my brother that are essential in any friendship.
FAITHFULNESS and DEPENDABILITY The Bible says, "A friend loves at all times" (Prov. 17:17). If a friendship is to survive the ups and downs of life, it must be based on a love that is faithful and dependable.
Some of the best friendships are made while working to encourage one another during emotional, physical, or spiritual challenges. Prayer partners often become great friends. Members of sports teams, orchestras, or other groups often become good friends. In these situations, the success of their joint mission depends on the performance of each member. They learn to depend on one another.
A friend is someone you can depend upon at any time with any issue. This is not always so easy for human friends to do, but we can always count on God to be there for us when we need Him. God is our perfect friend because He is always there for us. He is always ready to listen, to comfort, and to encourage us. Ernest was there for me during the decade of my teen years.
TRUST Friendships are built upon trust. The Bible records that Abraham was a friend of God (2 Chron. 20:7). Abraham was a friend because he trusted in God. He trusted God enough to leave his home when God called him to the promised land (Gen. 12:3), and he trusted God enough to offer his son Isaac (Gen. 22).
I had a call the other day from a woman who had found out recently that her husband was having an affair. She was so hurt because her husband had violated her trust in him. I salute the men and women who have remained faithful and loyal to their spouses over the years. Your faithfulness creates a trust that holds your families together. It has provided stability, confidence and security to untold numbers of children.
Today, many live-in relationships are not based on trust -- but on trying. Trust can overcome a multitude of trying experiences, but no amount of trying is ever going to lead to total trust.
SHARING Friendship is based on a willingness and ability to share with one another in words and in deeds.
It is such a high honor that Jesus regards you and me as His friends. Jesus says, "I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15). Jesus called the apostles His friends because He was willing to share with them the things that the Heavenly Father shared with Him. Sharing promotes understanding that in turn leads to love.
Job's three friends may not have been perfect in their methodology of helping, but they tried to share Job's pain. They spent time with him. They shared their emotions freely. They shared the most important thing they had with Job -- their presence and their silence for seven days and seven nights (Job 2:11-13).
Sharing calls for mutual respect, consideration, trust, understanding, and acceptance. Sharing is based on the desire to connect with others. Sharing seeks common understanding, goals, viewpoints, and interests.
We cannot expect agreement from our friends all the time, but we can seek and expect understanding.
SACRIFICE Jesus Christ is our example of the ultimate sacrifice we can make for each other.
John 15:13 reminds us, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
Besides the supreme and unique friendship between our Lord and His followers, the friendship between David and Jonathan is most noteworthy in the Bible. The Bible says, "Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself"(1 Sam 18:1, also 20:17).
In 1 Samuel 19:1-2, Jonathan went against the wishes of his father, Saul, who wanted Jonathan to kill David. Instead, Jonathan warned David of the intention of his father and even put in a good word for him, temporarily changing Saul's mind.
The friendship between David and Jonathan is even more amazing when one realizes that they were actually competitors. By his saving David, Jonathan was helping someone who was a possible successor to his father's throne. Jonathan expressed the mark of true friendship in his willingness to suffer personal inconvenience and sacrifice for the sake of his friend David.
I am honored that Jesus wants to be my friend. I just hope that I can live up to my end of the friendship: to be faithful to His teachings, to trust Him more fully, to share my life with others more willingly and to sacrifice for Him more cheerfully. I know my brother Ernest did.