Friendship Factors

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Proverbs 18:24

The month of August includes national “best friends” day as well as “friendship day” and as a church we have dedicated Sunday, August 18 as “Friendship Sunday” where we are praying for and inviting our friends to join us at church as friends don’t let friends miss heaven. Reading about the gift of friendship there probably isn’t a more beautiful portrait of friendship in all the Bible than that which is found in John 13:1, “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” Just hours before Jesus was to suffer an agonizing death upon the Cross, the apostle John writes, “He (Jesus) loved them (His disciples) to the end.” The word “end” in the Greek language here speaks of fulfilling which in reality means without end. Maybe Buzz Lightyear, the animated character from the movie Toy Story describes Jesus kind of devotion best, “to infinity and beyond.” Jesus love for His disciples (including you and me) has never vacillated, it has never failed and most of all, it will never end.

Friendships are as unique as the people who share them, some last but for a season while others exist for a reason but the best ones are the ones that last a lifetime. Below are 7 reminders regarding friendship. Countless interviews on friendship have been done through the years. Here are just 7 that stand out from the crowd.

1. Your Best Friends Love You For You. There is an old saying that comes to mind, “Love People, Use Things” because our world has this backwards as the world uses us for our stuff then discards us and moves on to someone else.

Friendships should be our most valuable possession. Poet Emily Dickenson, wrote “My friends are my estate.” (my social standing or status).

2. Your Best Friends Listen. Your best friends have the biggest ears. Not for gossip but for confession, for pouring out our sorrows and sharing in whatever life brings our way. Studying the book of Job I borrowed someones copy of an old Chuck Swindoll’s commentary on the book of Job, “Why Bad Things Happen To Good People” and it said regarding Job chapter 2-3, “Jobs friends heard his words but did not feel the anguish of his heart, and they took the wrong approach to helping him handle his trials.” Have you ever met someone who you knew before you listened to them you would like what you would hear? That’s the making of a good friendship.

Chuck Swindoll tells this story about one of his daughters when she was quite small. One day he came home tired from a long day of ministry. As he sat in his easy chair in front of a relaxing football game, hoping to catch the last half in peace, his young daughter approached him and began jabbering as fast as she could. Vainly trying to enjoy the game, Chuck said, “Honey, slow down. You’re talking too fast.” Quick as a whip, the child responded, “No Daddy, I’m not talking too fast. You are listening too slow!”

Psalm 91:15 says, “He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”

Isaiah 65:24 goes on to say, “It shall come to pass That before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear.”

3. Your Best Friends Protect You. Your true friends will always protect you. This is where casual friendships are separated from deep lasting ones. A couple of quotes that come to mind are, “A friend is one who walks in when others walk out.” Walter Winchell. Here’s a humorous definition, “Your friends won’t come visit you in prison because they will already be there with you.” The point is true friends don’t sell out. Proverbs 17:9 says, “He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.”

4. Your Best Friends Love You, Warts And All. Hang around people for any length of time and you will undoubtedly end up saying or doing something that in many circles “can and will be used against you” but when it happens among friends maybe Lawrence Peters says it best, “you can tell a real friend by the fact that when you’ve made a fool of yourself he or she doesn’t feel you’ve done a permanent job.”

One of my personal favorite quotes on friendship is by Dinah Craik, a poem she wrote, “Friendship: “O, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words – but pouring them right out – just as they are – chaff and grain together – Certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them – Keep what is worth keeping – And with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” So beautifully and eloquently spoken.

5. Your Best Friends Bring Out The Best In You. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Translated it means they make you smile.

6. Your Best Friends Bring Out The Jesus In You. I love the quote, “A friend is one who knows you as you are, understands where you’ve been, accepts who you’ve become and still gently invites you to grow.”

“A true friend is not necessarily the one you play with but the one you pray with.”

7. Your Best Friends Express Their Love and Friendship. The bible says, “open rebuke is better than hidden love” and it’s true. Your best friends are not afraid to express their love in both words and deeds. After all, isn’t that the way Jesus loves us. He told us He loved us and He showed us by going to the Cross for us and dying in our place.

People ask how much did Jesus really love us? To God they say, “How much do you love me?” Jesus answered when He spread out His arms on Calvary’s Cross and said, “This much” and then He died.

Jesus Himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). No one has ever loved us like Jesus does. Oh what a friend we have in Jesus.

There you have it, friends, 7 friendship factors to keep in mind as you cultivate your own life long friendships.

“A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity”

Proverbs 17:17

I LOVE YOU!

Michael Osthimer

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