|by Henry T. Blackaby||Return to Articles|
If a person has one or more friends –- true friends –- in a lifetime, they will be very fortunate! Most of us have acquaintances, even very close friends, but not what the Bible calls “friends.”
Our culture seeks to redefine almost everything, including what it means to be, or have, a “friend.” Many who say to us, “I want to be your friend,” do not really know what this requires. Every person needs a friend and, in turn, to be a friend to others. But what will this look like and be like in such a friendless world?
Above all else, it will mean to truly love another. Of course, the standard for our love is God’s love as revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ. 1 John 3:16 perhaps defines it best: “… by this we know love [that is, here is how we know what love is] because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for our brothers….”
Furthermore, Proverbs 17:17 tells us “… a friend loves at all times….” In other words, a true friend loves regardless of the circumstances or cost. Love is never determined by where you are, what is happening, what it looks like or what it may cost you to remain with another person. This is described thoroughly in 1 Corinthians 13. Look carefully at how it defines God’s kind of love: “… love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy … does not seek its own [interests], is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity; … bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; love never fails [that is, it never stops loving] …” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
This is the kind of friend each of us not only needs but also deeply desires to have at our side as we go through life — one who can be counted on to believe in you at all times, seeking your well-being regardless of what is being said about you, or what seems to be happening to you. Whatever is needed to sustain your integrity, your reputation or well-being, they will give of themselves to ensure that all is in place beside you.
Conversely, this is the kind of love we need to make available as well. Others must be able to count on us at all times in their lives. Too often, however, when it is costly, we refrain from giving of ourselves completely in this way. We give a limited response that deeply affects another because what they needed was beyond what we were willing to give.
It is incredibly lonely not to have a true friend. Ask God to bring to your life a true friend as you honestly seek to be such a friend to those around you. Remember, “… a man who has friends must himself be friendly …” (Proverbs 18:24). To have or express true friendship will always require the enabling of God’s Holy Spirit and presence in us. Galatians 5:22-23 assures us: “… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control….” All these qualities are expressions of pure love — God’s love. Ask Him to create a heart in you that He can always express it through.