The Incomparable Gift of a Friend
Do you have friends? I know it sounds like a silly question, but it's an important one. God created us as social beings -- we all need friends. When we're alone, we don't grow much spiritually or emotionally. By ourselves, we're easy to get along with; it's when we get around other people that we start to have trouble. But God gave us friends to reveal our flaws and help us smooth out the rough edges.
Sometimes it seems easier to be alone. There are people who say, "Why bother with friendships? If I let myself be vulnerable, I'll get burned. Isn't it better to be alone and aloof?" Let me tell you, it may be easier, but it's not better. God's comment when he looked at man was, "It is not good that man should be alone" (Genesis 1:18). God created relationships, beginning with marriage, to take care of the problem of isolation.
When you call someone "friend," you give him quite a title. When someone calls you "friend," you receive quite an honor. It's a wonderful thing to be called a friend, but it's not something to take lightly -- friendship is a great responsibility. As Christians, we need friendship and fellowship to guard one another against temptation and to protect one another from compromise.
I've noticed that in relationships, people operate from one of two platforms: the platform of need or the platform of supply. When you operate from the platform of need, you make demands on people. When you operate from the platform of supply, you serve the needs of others. A true friend builds on the platform of supply, not need.
To help you become a better friend, I'd like to share six marks of a true friend:
1. A friend is friendly. While you can't necessarily choose to have a friend, you can choose to be one. Just as love begets love, friendliness begets friends.
2. A friend is faithful. In good times and bad, "A friend loves at all times" (Proverbs 17:17).
3. A friend is frank. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (Proverbs 27:6). Friends who are tactfully and lovingly honest with you cause you to grow.
4. A friend is fortifying. "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Proverbs 27:17).
5. A friend is forbearing. There is an ebb and flow to friendship -- sometimes timing is everything. "He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it will be counted a curse to him" (Proverbs 27:14). It's good to give encouragement and even reproof, but a true friend patiently waits for the right time.
6. A friend is forgiving. One of the greatest things about friends is that they will confront you, yet give you latitude. When you mess up, a true friend won't make you feel that it's permanent -- he helps you clean up your mess.
Because friendship is so valuable, it's vulnerable. We often fail one another because we're imperfect and fragile. Friendships should be handled with care and guarded vigilantly.
Do you have a good friend who you are having problems with? I encourage you to take the steps to resolve them today! Start by verbally telling your friend how much you appreciate and value him. Most importantly, take time now to tell Jesus, the best Friend you will ever have, that you love Him.
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