Being a good friend
As we are made in God's image, we have a need for love and fellowship. That is why good, close, healthy and strong friendships are essential to us.
God said "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness" (Genesis 1:26). God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit lived in perfect love expressed in perfect fellowship. And they wished to share this fellowship with humankind.
Friendship grows when we choose to give
Jesus also had friends with different kinds of closeness. He was friends of tax collectors and sinners (Matt 11:19). He used time with them so that they would get to know the gospel. That's one example we can follow.
Jesus chose twelve disciples and lived with them daily for three years. But out of these twelve, three were extra close: Peter, James and John.
Bethany he had Martha Marion Lazarus, a brother and two sisters that he would visit when he was in the village and had a close relationship to them as well.
We need to be rooted into a friendship with Jesus. In fact, it's only when He has first place that our friendship with other people gets to be healthy. Being more dependant on people than on Jesus makes us insecure and weak.
CHOOSE TO GIVE
Friendship starts, and grows when we choose to give it. So how do we?
1. WE CAN TAKE THE INITIATIVE
Jesus often did it. After the disciples had been a whole night at sea fishing, he waited for them down at the beach. He had made their breakfast. Another time he served them and showed his love for them by washing their feet – something only slaves were supposed to do – and Jesus said:
"Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them". (Matt 7:12)
Instead of waiting for others to get going we must be the one to make contact and have fun together, pray together, fellowship, or to say sorry so things can be put right again.
It means taking a chance. We may feel unsure and be scared of being rejected, but if we want to invest in a relationship we have to take a chance. It's good to know that we are not responsible for how other people choose to react.
If there is to be a two-way friendship, then both parts have to be ready to start first.
2. WE CAN LISTEN
"let everyone be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath". (James 1:19)
Be there for your friend, forget yourself, and listen; then you make the value of friendship clear.
3. WE CAN LAY DOWN OUR LIVES
"No one has greater love than this: than to lay down their life for their friends. (John 15:13)
That means going beyond what you usually do for a friend, if they really need it. It can also mean telling them the truth, the Word of God, in love, to save them from some thing or other. It can get uncomfortable for both of you but: "faithful are the wounds of a friend, but false the kisses of an enemy". (Proverbs 27:6)
4. WE CAN DARE TO BE HURT
Some people are scared others will get to know what they're really like, or how they really feel about things. We get scared of getting hurt if somebody knows what we're thinking on in the inside.
WE ARE ALLOWED TO LOVE OURSELVES
It's so easy for Christians to build a fine facade, and it's easier to show others our strengths and help everybody else, than to accept their love. But only when we're honest about our lives are we truly connected to each other. If we always pretend to be successful, it creates distance instead.
"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7)
Just think: Jesus the son of God, let his need be known! He took Peter James and John with him to Gethsemane and begged them to stand by him in prayer. Luke 22:41 says he "dragged himself away from them". That show just how much he needed them right then. But they let him down.
WE DO NOT OWN OUR FRIENDS
It's important to know that our best friends can hurt us more than our enemies, because we have expectations about our friends. So we have to be ready to forgive them, even though they may not ask us for it, or even see that they need it. We have to forgive them whatever. Jesus forgave both his friends and his enemies.
5. WE CAN SHARE WHAT WE OURSELVES HAVE GOT FROM GOD
By using the gifts and talents we've got, we can be a great blessing through our relationships. We can help him or her to become the person God has actually meant then to be.
6. WE MUST GIVE FREEDOM BUT PUT LIMITS IN PLACE
We do not own our friends. We have no right to control them or demand things of them. We must hold them with an open hand not a clutching grasp. No one person can meet all our needs, nor should think they have to. Only God can do that. When we seek him first, He will make sure of our needs on the relationship level, too.
"You shall love your neighbour as yourself." (Matthew 22:39)
We are allowed to love ourselves. This is not about being self-centred and selfish, but about giving our own needs space and setting limits. Love gives freedom and space to others and respects the values and limits they set.
Friendship can also produce bad fruit, like back-biting, under-valuing them or. So we are warned:
"Bad company destroys good habits." (1 Corinthians 15,33)
It takes time, and it can be challenging to develop good, close, healthy and strong friendships. But the joy, satisfaction and blessing it brings far outweighs the effort.
"See how good and lovely it is when brothers (and sisters) dwell together. (...) for there God gives blessing; life for evermore.." (Psalm 133:1 and 3)
Text used by kind permission of Sennep.net. It was originally published in more lengthy form in FOLK 4-2013.