Recently, ladies from our church enjoyed 48 hours in Seaside, Oregon, at a retreat designed to deepen our bonds with each other and the Lord. The theme of the retreat: Finding Friendship.
Most of the time we take our friends for granted. It begins with our best friend, Jesus Christ. We wake up and say ten quick words to him, jump into our day and don’t think of him again until we give thanks over a meal.
Jesus is the supreme example of how to be a good friend. From him we learn that to be a good friend:
- Requires sacrificial love
- Excludes judgmental attitudes
- Will be inconvenient at times
- Involves forgiveness and the extension of grace
Many other examples are given in the Bible that help us learn how to be good at friendship.
David and Jonathon
Everyone always turns to this example when they talk about friendship from the Bible. It’s a great example. Here we see a mutual friendship that surpasses death.
- Reached out to David with gifts
- Felt kinship with David after seeing his courage (which Jonathon also possessed)
- Chose friendship over family
- Protected David by hiding him from King Saul
- Risked his own life to keep David safe
David reciprocated this friendship by:
- Trusting Jonathon’s advice
- Confiding in Jonathon
- Keeping his oath to Jonathon – even though Jonathon didn’t live to see it
What better example of loyalty is there? These two men were drawn together by commonality and remained bound by brotherly love.
Barnabas and Paul (Saul)
This example of friendship defies many boundaries. Most of us will never meet a Barnabas. Fewer still have the heart of encouragement that helped Barnabas step outside the comfort zone and put God’s work first – in friendship.
Barnabas was a true friend. He:
- Reached out to a known murderer in friendship
- Placed confidence in a man who needed someone to believe in him
- Stood up to church elders to give his friend a chance to be a part of it
- Recognized the strengths of his friend
- Compelled his friend to use his gifts and talents in the work of the Lord
- Served side-by-side with his friend in the capacity the Lord directed
- Never gave up on his friends (see how he vouched for John Mark in Acts 15:37-39)
Finding a better pattern for our friendships within the Lord’s work will be difficult. Aside from Jesus, Barnabas demonstrates how to be a friend with others in church.
Ruth and Naomi
The story of Ruth is a beautiful allegory of the state of all mankind. We are strangers but we can be redeemed into the divine family of God. We have a kinsman-redeemer, Jesus Christ, who stands with his shoe already off – nail prints reminding us of his love.
Ruth was a friend:
- She left everything she knew to be with Naomi
- She put her dreams on the back burner to minister to her friend
- She worked hard – physically – to provide for her friend
- She listened to the godly counsel of her friend
In the end, God blessed her faithfulness.
What kind of a friend are you? These examples give us much to consider. How do our own friendships compare?
Next Week: Give Thanks in Every Thing