I had the opportunity to study through and teach a series on friendship in these past few months. It has been something I’ve been wanting to do for some time, and that I’ve talked with many about. The reality of a study like this is that there is much to read, plenty to study, and hard conclusions to draw. Below I summarize my study in the same way I summarized my series. I hope it is both an encouragement and challenge to you.
The Bible has many descriptions with few prescriptions regarding friendships – “A man that hath friends, must show himself friendly.”
Many of the descriptions are commanded of Christians – Gen 38:20;1 Sam 30:26; 2 Sam 13:3,16:16; Job 6:14; Pro 17:17,18:24, 27:6,9,10,17, 18:24; Deut 13:6; Job 42:10, Luke 11:5-8, 15:6; John 15:13; 3 John 1:14; Ex 33:11
Here is a picture we discussed and filled in as a class. The circles represent friendship ( based on Jesus life where he had Peter, James, and John in his inner circles, then the twelve, then 70, etc) and the reality that most descriptions of friendships can apply to far outer circles and not just the inner circles.
The described circles demonstrate that the actions are different for many people, many types of friends, and that the reality of our circles is subjective to us and not a matter of right and wrong. – my circles differ from yours, and the way I am willing to share/sacrifice/etc is different from others.
Reality of Friends
Good or great friends can be a huge help and blessing – Jonathan and David: help, encourage, strengthen, support, uphold, etc
God doesn’t require us to have good or great friends, nor promise that we will ever have them (Jesus had close friends for three years and was betrayed when it mattered most)
Friendships are not often equal in giving and receiving – David and Jonathan(Jonathan was almost exclusively the actor in their entire relationship), Hushai
Friendships may or may not be permanent – David and Jonathan, David and Abiathar
Application of Reality
We are NOT expected, commanded, or guaranteed to have friends in any particular circle ever, let alone for most or much of our lives, or through our most difficult seasons – Jesus, Joseph, Moses, Job, Noah, etc
Accept and be grateful for who you have – don’t look at what you don’t have
Be the friend you want to have without expecting it to be reciprocated. (Recognize, you cannot be perfect-inner-circle friends to everyone. God cares for people, sometimes He uses us, sometimes others.)
The Perfect Friend
Lean on the Lord. He is always there. – He will never leave you or forsake you. Heb 13:5
He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother. – Pro 18:24
He demonstrated the greatest love there is. – John 15:13
He portrays the positive characteristics we see described of friends
Consider yourself – are you friendly? To anyone? To your friends?
Who are your friends? Why are they your friends?
Do you expect more from people you consider your friends than they are giving? Consider, without being hurt and self-pity, that they might have different circles than you, or different behaviors within those circles.
Be the friend you desire
Develop a strong friendship with the Lord