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A British publication once offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Among the thousands of answers received were the following:
- "One who multiplies joys, divides grief, and whose honesty is inviolable."
- "One who understands our silence."
- "A volume of sympathy bound in cloth."
- "A watch that beats true for all time and never runs down."
What characterizes genuine friendship? Proverbs 17:17 emphasized, “A friend loveth at all times.” There is an excellent illustration in the Scriptures of what how Proverbs described in the life of David and Jonathan. First, they honor one another when Jonathan gave David his military clothes to recognize David’s calling from God (1 Samuel 18:4). He wasn’t envious being the next in line to his father’s throne but yielded for his friend’s sake and followed God’s will. Second, they were loyal in defense of one another especially after King Saul ordered David killed. Jonathan defended David to his father and reminded him of his faithfulness to him in the past, including killing Goliath (1 Samuel 19:1-3). Finally, they freely express their emotions with one another as more than friends but brothers to protect one another no matter what (1 Samuel 20).
In David and Jonathan’s friendship, the Scripture provided additional guidelines for developing genuine friendships. There must be a covenant of love made: “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul” (1 Samuel 18:3). There must be a strong bond that exists: “But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24b). Lastly, there must be a sense of sacrifice willing to pay for one another: “Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for friends” (John 15:13). Most importantly, somebody declared, “Everyone hears what you say. Friends listen to what you say. Best friends listen to what you don’t say.”
Here’s something I found from The Youth's Evangelist on how to cement friendship:
- Take your friends as you find them —do not try to remove the motes you see in their eyes.
- Use the Golden Rule always.
- Do not talk about your "peeves."
- Remember that sincere and appreciative letters establish a pathway to the heart of a friend.
- Be a loyal, faithful friend. Remember that "none can be called deformed but unkind."
- Remember that souls are greater than vocabularies, so try to read the overtones in the written and spoken words of your friends.
- Cultivate a sense of humor.
- Do not expect the impossible; a wood thrush and a yardstick have little in common.
- Do not keep "tab" on the affairs of your friend.
- Do not usurp your friend: be glad that he has other friends besides you.
- Never force a confidence, nor betray one reposed in you.
- Share your blessings with your friends.
- Don't be supersensitive. You would not willingly hurt a friend, so give your friend credit for having the same feeling toward you.
- Remember that to have a friend you must be one.
- Remember that a friend is one before whom you may think aloud, who understands your silences.
At the end of the day, it would take two or more people fully determined to enter into genuine friendship with all the necessary ingredients of strengthening their relationship. However, given the inclination of individuals towards a letdown, the only secure relationship is one that endures no matter what because somebody said, “Prosperity begets friends, adversity proves them.” Knowing this fact, we should not be dissuaded in pursuing meaningful relationships as much as possible. People may fail us, but it is what makes every friendship becomes worthwhile. Never giving up on people must become the slogan to engage in because friendship is an investment of time, patience, sacrifice, and life.
If you are looking for an ideal friendship that you can enter with a guarantee of genuineness and faithfulness, it can only be found in Jesus. He did the first half what it takes to develop a genuine friendship when He died on the cross for our sins. He is waiting for you to make the next move. Now, what would stop you from making Him, not just a friend but a Saviour as well? Come on and ask Him to come into your life.
Let’s talk again!