Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I was reading an interesting article by author and journalist Shelley Gare about friendship. It was quite amusing and thought provoking. The value of true friendship.
And Shelley says:
On the battlefield of life, good friends make our lives so much better.
It was a sentence that caught my attention, and made me think about it. Yes, friendship is such a valuable thing to have in the battlefield of life, when life is going against us. Shelley also said:
What gives life its sparkle is making more room for the friends I love. (Good Weekend, p25, 16 February 2019)
It was Thomas Aquinas a long time ago who said, “There is nothing on earth to be prized than true friendship”. Everyone needs special people to laugh, share secrets and celebrate life with, but friendships aren’t just about enjoying good times together. Maintaining true friendships is important for physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing—we all need a good friend who will journey through the ups and downs of life. It’s easy to be friends when life is easy, but a real friend never allows someone they care about to go through difficulties alone. Whatever hardships the world has in store, true friends stick together and get through them together. I hope you’ve had an experience like that.
Are our friends close friends?
Many of us have friends—but do we have close friends? I think there is a difference. Great friendships must share deeply. For some this sharing is emotional and for others it is primarily mental. Friendship listens, speaks, understands, and accepts because there is a bond. When you look for a friend, look for that bond of commonality. A truly great friend is not easy to find.
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Friendship means a close or deep, loving, trusting relationship between two people. But just because you spent a lot of time with somebody, that does not mean that person is a best friend. For example, you can work with somebody side-by-side for thirty years, and that person may not be your best friend. There is not a close bond there, even though you know a lot about your work colleague.
A good friend is someone you can be close to and honest with.
A good friend has many qualities—someone you can be close to and honest with. Someone you share your ups and downs with. Someone with whom you talk with, listen to, and rely on. Someone you share the greatest intimacies of life. You don’t share those intimacies with anyone, but only with a good friend, a special friend. A good friendship is always a two way street: talking and listening, giving and receiving, loving and being loved. A good friend brings joy to life. Friendships are often bonded in pain. Sometimes, you go through some really tough times together, and those friendships share a common painful moment that very few are truly part of.
The Bible has quite a lot to say about friendship. Abraham was called a friend of God. He is the only person in the whole Old Testament who is given that high honour. The Old Testament says, “You are descendants of Abraham, my friend.” To be a called a friend of God is an incredibly high honour.
Jesus is our closest friend
Jesus was with his closest group of friends, the twelve disciples. It was their last meal together, their last supper. Jesus knew he was going to die the next day, and his disciples sensed it as well. During the past three years, Jesus and his disciples had become very good friends, walking together, talking together, fishing together, sailing together, hanging out together. Jesus was not only their Master, Lord and King, but Jesus had become their good friend, someone they could trust, someone they could count on, someone who would not put them down.
During this last meal together with his very best friends, Jesus then spoke these words to his very best friends:
No greater love has a person than this: than they are willing to lay down their life for their friends. Now, you are my friends, if you do what I command you, to love one another. You didn’t chose me, but I chose you. I chose you to be my disciples and friends. I don’t call you servants because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing, but I call you friends because you know what the master is thinking and doing. You know the inside of the master’s head and heart. You are my friends. (John 15:12-17)
God knows you and me inside out, and still likes and loves us.
Maybe if you went to church you recall the great old hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus”. Jesus is our greatest friend. To think of Jesus as a friend is to allow God to come down to our size, so we can understand who God is. But a good friend not only listens; a good friend also talks back. A good friend does not only go, Hmm, like some professional and silent counsellor.
Finally, after all that listening, a good friend talks with you. They share with you what they think and feel. They tell you their perspective, and this is good, a sign of a true friendship. Good friendship means that a friend is willing to honestly share their thoughts and feelings with you. God also has a way of speaking to us in our needs. Christ, our good friend, always talks with us. The other thing about good friends is that they know you really well, and they still like you. They do understand and accept you warts and all. And so it is with God, our best friend. God knows you and me inside out, the darkest sides of our personalities, and God still likes and loves us.
In the Bible, it often says that Jesus was the friend of sinners, and I take comfort in that. God is a friend of imperfect people. God knows our shadow side and still likes and loves us. That is a good friend.