In most cases we choose our friends but not our family. In ideal cases, our family can make some of our best and closest friends.
It seems this is the way God intended it when he instituted the family in the beginning. According to Genesis, Eve became Adam’s help meet; she was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. It can’t get much closer than that.
The Bible excels in listing genealogies. Additionally, many examples about people, related to each other by blood (or marriage), building friendships on top of that kinship.
Ruth and Naomi
Ruth was a Moabitess. She was considered a foreigner, a stranger, someone the Israelites should avoid. However, Naomi and her family lived in Moab when it was time for the sons to be married.
Ruth became Naomi’s daughter-in-law, a very good daughter-in-law who wouldn’t leave her widowed mother behind. Even though Ruth knew it meant giving up on a future with children and family, of hearth and home, she bound her future to that of the destitute Naomi.
Ruth was a good friend to Naomi. When Naomi was bitter and heartbroken at losing her husband and two sons, Ruth stood by her. Ruth offered comfort and companionship like any true friend would.
Ruth was a hard worker, who diligently gleaned after the reapers during barley harvest. This provided food for the destitute widows.
In return, Naomi became a friend when she leared that Boaz was the owner of the fields I which Ruth gleaned. Ruth had no idea about the customs of the land, but Naomi realized it was providential for Ruth to glean after Boaz’s reapers. Because Naomi was able to give good counsel to Ruth, Ruth gained a second chance at a family: husband and son.
Naomi gained a son as well, since Boaz and Ruth’s offspring became the seed of Ruth’s dead husband, Naomi’s son Chilion.
Mary and Elisabeth
I spoke of Mary and Elizabeth earlier as a mentoring relationship. This is true, but it was also a family relationship. Mary and Elizabeth were cousins.
I have a few cousins to whom I’m very close. At least one of them is someone I consider my best friend. We are family: we are related and would have a relationship regardless of if we cared about each other as friends.
It’s nice to be able to go to a family reunion and know that my cousin, with whom I have a good relationship, will be there. It makes the family gatherings even better for both of us.
Elisabeth comforted her cousin Mary in an extremely difficult time for Mary. Mary felt overwhelmed at being chosen as the mother of the Messiah. Elisabeth reminded her how every girl dreamed of having that honor.
Elisabeth didn’t stop with one word of encouragement. She had a list:
- Mary is going to be remembered as the mother of the Savior
- She is going to be honored always
- God has favored her by giving her this special opportunity.
Those are actions of a true friend. Someone who can shine a positive light on your dark circumstances. The words didn’t change anything. No, Mary was still pregnant and unmarried, but now she could choose a different outlook on things, thanks to Elisabeth’s encouragement.
Look around your family with fresh eyes. Are there possible friends among them? Are there any people with whom you really connect? When you’re together, you laugh and enjoy each other’s company. These might be friendships worth cultivating.
Sometimes we hold our family at a distance because, after all, they know all of our deepest darkest secrets. They know what we did when we were 15 and they might just spread that around. Not if they’re good friendship material.
In any case, family should be a closer well of friendship than what we see in our present era. After all, God is our father, Jesus our brother (as well as our Savior) and the best friend we could ever have.
Next week: Jesus models friendship