Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What makes a true friend?

Make no friendship with a man given to anger.
- Proverbs 22:24 (ESV)

A friend loves at all times.
- Proverbs 17:17 (ESV)

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
- Proverbs 18:24 (ESV)

How many friends do I have?
Not just acquaintances that Facebook calls friends or people I know from church or school, but real friends. How do I decide who is worth pouring into? Who builds me up, and loves me enough to point out sin? These are all things I've been thinking about recently.

Here are a few things that I think of when I consider friendship.

A friend does not:
Gossip: Talk behind others’ backs. This includes husbands, “friends,” and relatives. Exploit: Continually take advantage of you solely for their own benefit. Lie: Not doing this would seem self evident, but it seems to happen too often. Lie about husbands (see gossip), about their kids, and about their life. Brag: Intentionally one up you or flaunt what they have.

A friend does:
Listen: lend an ear and find out what’s going on in your life, care about you and check up on you. Give: Extend a hand, time, or constructive advice and criticism. Pray: Speak to Jesus, for you. Tell the truth: Both encouragement and rebuke, even when it hurts you, even when they know you may not receive it well. Love: genuinely, unconditionally.

So who are my friends?
Ultimately, Jesus stands up to all of these tests as a friend. My husband is truly my best earthly friend. Beyond that, the list shrinks fast. My true friends ask about my day, my husband's job, my daughter's health. They pray for our family. They may be frustrated with me, but they don't tell all of our mutual acquaintances. They trust Jesus to guide them in their conversations with me and about me.

I've thought about this a ton lately, partly because I've watched so much exploitation of a should-be-friend relationship, partly because our pastor has been talking about how marriage is based on friendship rather than feelings alone, and partly because God has blessed me with some truly wonderful ladies to share life with.

I pray for my friends and for those I will one day call friends. I hope I am half as good a friend to them as they have been to me. I trust Jesus to give me the discernment to know what to talk about with them, what to ask them about, and how to respond to them.

The following lyrics sum things up well. Friendship, whether between my husband and I , our daughter, or people I share coffee or lunch with, is for the glory of God.

My Friends May You Grown in Grace
Sean Diamond & Timothy James Meaney

My friends may you grow in grace
And in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.
My friends may you grow in grace
and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
To God be the glory, now and forever, amen.

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