Have you ever had a moment in your life where having a friend (or friends) just seemed like so much work? We have all been there to some degree…that moment when you contemplate calling your dog your best friend (which is true, B.T.W.) just to avoid human contact. In my experience, friendship has always been difficult to navigate. I can blame it on a host of reasons: moving too much as a kid so not developing strong relationships; being an introvert who prefers reading and writing over socializing. It is a true story that the majority of my relationships with people have gone the way of the Dodo. Until recently, though I had failed to look through another lens. What if I’m doing something wrong? What if my concept of friendship isn’t what God had in mind at all?
A Friend to the World
Perhaps my problem is the same of the majority…a worldly view of friendship. It is no surprise that once I began researching for this article, I discovered a stark contrast between what most of today’s society construes as friendship and what the Bible had to say. Most friendships these days are more that of acquaintances who simply do fun things together. While this creates bonding at a superficial level, there are not a lot of these connections that are characterized by the standards of scripture. In order to achieve true friendship we must intentionally become good friends. After all, if you wouldn’t want to be friends with you, then who would? Even though we don’t get an exact definition of friendship from scripture, we do get some pieces to connect. So how can you be the best friend that God intended?
While this seems obvious, it is important to ask whether your relationships are marked by kindness. Each of us would probably answer “yes”…because we are all under the impression that we are kind to others. Looking a bit more deeply, however kindness is more than picking up the tab at restaurant or sharing our wine. It is even more than speaking nicely or being supportive. Are you genuinely friendly to the people you call friends? Are you able to be sympathetic during the traumatic moments in their lives? (You can read about my some of my experience here: http://www.fromwater2wine.com/discovering-porch-swing-learning-mourn-gracefully/). Is your generosity more about them, or more about you? After all, it is difficult to be kind if you only have your interests in mind.
Job 6:14 states: “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”
So the good Lord not only wants us to be kind to our friends, he expects it.
I know it isn’t easy to do. There before you stands a person who you love, asking about the most hideous hair cut in the history of style. Your first instinct is to ask about the vision of the barber, but you don’t want to hurt your friend’s feelings. Whether it is a bad do, overpriced clothes that are unflattering, or a questionable relationship decision, we owe it to our friends to tell the truth. In fact, Proverbs 27:6 reminds us:
“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
Now I’m not advocating that you are brutally honest without consideration for your friend’s feelings, but here’s the thing: deep down they already know the answer. By being dishonest to spare feelings, you are disabling trust in the relationship. Your pal doesn’t necessarily want you to pretend to like their choices, but maybe you have a really good picture to share about an intensely horrible style decision that you made. You can be there through these moments without endorsing them, and that means more than insincere flattery.
Nothing is worse than thinking you are friends with somebody only to discover that they only want to hang out with you on their terms. If the only time you show up is when your schedule is free or you don’t have anything better to do, you do not have friendship. You have a boredom problem. Part of being a friend is to be there for those you call your friends. I understand that there are needy people in the world, and there is no way you can be there for your buddies all of the time. It is important to strive for consistency, though.
Ecclesiastes 4:10 tells us: “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity on anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
This shows that God depends on us to be reliable. Are you truly somebody that others can count on?
There is no such thing as an ideal friendship. We are all far to human for that! There are moments in each person’s life in which they are struggling internally. As a result, they may say something they do not mean. Perhaps they forget to call or maybe they hurt your feelings on purpose in a moment of anger. While this will almost inevitably cause a “break” in the friendship, I would encourage you to pray for your friends often. In fact, you don’t have to wait for reason…you can be a good friend by praying for them daily.
In Philippians 1:3 it reads: “I thank my God every time I remember you.”
Are you being thankful for your friends? Are your relationships marked by affection and mutual gratitude? It is important to remember that a true friend will hold you in high regard and avoid being hostile in any situation. Are the above sentiments true of your relationships, or does there a need for self-reflection? What additional ideas do you have about being the kind of friend you want to have?