Friendship is one of the greatest gifts God gives us. Everyone needs a friend. Life without a friend is boring and meaningless. Everyone needs someone that they can sing with, cry with, and dream with! Aristotle once said, “Nobody would wish to live without friends, even if he possessed all other good things.”
Friendship is the basic form of human relationships, but it has been sadly neglected. Ask yourself these questions. Do you have any good friends? How many friends have you made recently, people whose company you really enjoy? Are you always ready to make a new friend?
The best way to have a friend is to be a friend. Clay Trumbull asserts, “Friendship by its very nature consists in loving, rather than being loved. In other words, friendship consists in being a friend, not in having a friend; in giving one’s affection unselfishly and unswervingly to another, not in being the object of another’s affection, or in reciprocating such an affection.”
Since God is the best friend a person could ever have, we should model our friendships on how God treats us. He is ever-loving, patient, and kind. He listens to us far more than he talks. He never stabs anyone in the back with negative words. No matter how many steps we walk away from Him, it is only one step back. God loves us, not because we are lovable, but because He is loving. Jesus told his disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). Do not wait for someone to choose you as a friend, instead, find a lonely person and become their friend.
A perfect example of true friendship is found in the Biblical account about David and Jonathan. They first met each other right after David had killed Goliath. Jonathan was the king’s oldest son, he was the heir-apparent who was loved by the people. Suddenly, the young, upstart David appears and the people’s devotion is transferred to him. Jonathan has the right to be angry, jealous, and resentful of David’s success. Instead, Jonathan unselfishly recognizes David as someone noble and special. He takes David to heart and they become covenant friends. In the midst of trouble, when Saul wants to kill David, Jonathan remains his friend. Even when the crowds begin shouting for David to become king, Jonathan remains devoted to him. No wonder, David said that the friendship was “passing the love of women.” Few things in life are greater than a true friend.
Here are some keys to being a good friend. Be sincere. Be honest. Keep secrets. Sympathize with your friends in times of hardship, and rejoice with them in their accomplishments. Be willing to invest time, energy, and money in your relationships. Go the extra mile. Be courteous. Avoid careless words that can damage a friendship. Dream together, play together, cry together, and celebrate together. “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17).
Friendship requires an investment of time, energy, and emotion. If you help others at their point of need, they will be available to help you when you need something. Being a friend is like having a bank account, you can not continue to make withdrawals, unless you also make deposits. “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Dale Carnegie, in his classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, offered six principles for making people like you. First, become genuinely interested in other people. Second, smile! Third, remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language, so remember the names of those you meet. Fourth, be a good listener by encouraging others to talk about themselves. Fifth, talk about other people’s interests, not about your own. Finally, make other people feel important - and do it sincerely.
Never, ever, ever marry someone who is not your friend. Physical attraction and romantic ideals are great for a honeymoon, but a good marriage is based on friendship. As Lord Byron said, “Friendship may, and often does, grow into love, but love never subsides into friendship.”
Choose your friends wisely. You will become like the people you hang out with. You will pick up their habits, say their pet words, and echo their opinions. I can tell what kind of person you are by looking at the friends you spend time with.
Friendship should be for life. A fair-weather friend is hardly worth having. Why make friends with someone who will leave at the first hint of trouble? Seek friendships that will last.
Just as “iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). Find friends who will challenge you to greatness. Find someone who excels in an area where you are weak, so you will be strengthened by associating with them. I believe one should have many friends, but I think that a man will be able to count his great friendships on only one hand. George Washington advised, “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of low growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.”
“There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). This friend is Jesus, the only one who will never turn from you. Whenever you feel you are friendless, run to Jesus, because he will forever be your friend. When Jesus came to earth, He did not pick the high and mighty to be his friends. Instead, he called himself “the friend of publicans and sinners” (Luke 7:34). He does not care what you have done, where you have been, or why you have sinned. He will not judge you, he will accept you just the way you are. No matter what happens, you will always have a friend in Jesus, who promised, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). My prayer is that you will follow in the footsteps of Abraham who was called the “Friend of God” (James 2:23).
May we all be able to say, as Shakespeare said, “I am wealthy in my friends!”