What is a friend? I think we can all think of one special person (not our husbands) who we can say is a very dear and close friend. I think of my dear friend, Vicky, who lives in my home town in Maine. Not only were we best friends all our lives, but our mothers were best friends also. We were always together. The Lord used Vicky to lead me to Him! What a wonderful friend she is and she is also my sister in Christ as well as my spiritual mother.
I think before we can look at the verses which talk about what a friend should be to YOU, let’s look at what God’s Word says about what kind of a friend WE should be. Proverbs 18:24 “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” The Lord tells us that before we can have friends to call our own (I’m not talking about acquaintances here), we must FIRST be friendly. Why do you think God threw this verse in here? The ball is in our court here. We have to be the initiator of friendships. Don’t wait for someone to come to you … go to them.
I remember when we switched churches and how I dreaded the thought of starting over in getting to know a new group of ladies. I’m a friendly person but I have to really work at being outgoing and the “first one” to start a conversation. Some women, on the other hand, are extremely shy and would rather die than to start a conversation with new people. Instead, they wait for those others to make the first move. Then you have those ladies who are just naturally friendly and outgoing and can talk to anyone! Which lady are you like? Whichever lady you are like, you must FIRST be friendly, right?
Let’s look on to what God’s Word says about the “qualities” of a friend so that we can learn to be this kind of friend. Firstly, we’re told a friend’s love doesn’t have a time table. Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. God says that you must love your friend at ALL times. You cannot be a “fair weather” friend, can you? You must love this friend at ALL times. I like that little three-letter word, “all”. It’s so small, yet it packs such a punch! You must love your friend whether she has her makeup on or whether she just got out of bed!
You must love her when she’s having good days as well as when she’s having bad days. You must love her and DEFEND her then walk away when others are “having her for lunch” in their gossip session! You must love her when YOU’RE having bad days. She should not just receive your love when you feel like giving it to her. It should be constant and consistent.
Next, God’s Word says that you must be faithful to your friend in spiritual matters as well. Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. You should love your friend so much that you will reprove and correct her spiritually when she sins. Of course, you do this with love and it is received with love. If she were to be walking off a cliff, you would stop her right? You should do the same for her spiritually. How you ask? Here’s a good example (one that I have experienced myself). Have you ever heard her dishonor her husband in her conversations with you when he’s not around? You KNOW better and you know that this will not bring God’s blessings upon her when she does this. Do you lovingly correct her with the verses she needs from God’s Word? Or do you let it go because you’re afraid to hurt her? Do you think you’ve helped her by not saying anything? No, what you’ve actually done is leave the door open for God to punish your friend.
Do you want God’s punishment on her? Of course you don’t. That’s why as a true and good friend, you should share with her things even if they will temporarily hurt her or cause her embarrassment. I have been spiritually corrected by two or three women in my life time whom I have respected. I didn’t despise them for their correction but was thankful that they loved me so much to help me and guide me. This is one characteristic of a friend which needs much prayer and forethought before exercising it.
Thirdly, a friend is spiritually wise, which means to be a good friend you must be in the Word and walking with the Lord. Proverbs 27:9 Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. A friend gives sound biblical counsel to you when you are in need. At times the Lord works through a dear friend to speak to us. It reminded me of another verse: Proverbs 15:23 “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!”
A true friend will have words spoken in due season for you. They will be spiritual words that have been thought about and prayed over before speaking. I’ve seen too many times where women have opened their mouths and voice opinions and have only served to hurt the very person they were trying to help. Be sure you know this is what the Lord would have you say. Think before you give counsel. Pray before you give counsel. Look up verses before you give counsel. God will direct you for the benefit of your friend.
Fourthly, you must sharpen your friend’s countenance. Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” How can you sharpen a friend’s countenance? I can think of encouraging words, sweet words (Scriptures) in time of need, rejoicing when she rejoices, weeping when she weeps. The countenance is another word for face. You can see a bright and happy face here if the sharpening has been of the Lord. I see someone whose friend has been encouraging her, uplifting her, rejoicing with her to the point where her countenance is affected. This means that this friend is close to her and knows her very well. Haven’t you ever been down in the dumps only to open your mail and find a sweet card from a dear friend that says exactly what you needed it to say? Didn’t that make your gloomy face change to a smiling one? Your countenance had just been sharpened by this friend! In turn, this is the kind of sharpening you must do to your friend.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the verses dealing with friends. I picked the qualities of a friend that I enjoy in my dear friend and expounded on those qualities. I’m sure you can all contribute several other verses and qualities that you see in your dear friend as well. Take a moment and meditate on what your dear friend means to you and what you like most about her. Thank God for her in your life and make a commitment to be that kind of friend to her or to someone else that the Lord has laid on your heart.
Now that we have seen what a friend IS … how can we, personally, BE that friend to someone else? This will take work on our part. Anything that we want bad enough, we must work for. As we first saw in the beginning in Prov. 18:24, we must FIRST show ourselves friendly before we can be blessed with a friend such as this. What can we do to teach ourselves to be this kind of friend to others? Let’s read on.
Incorporate your gift(s) from the Lord in nurturing your friendship. What gift(s) has the Lord blessed you with? Are you craftsy? Do you love to write poetry? Do you love to play the piano? Do you love to send cards? Do you love to cook? Do you love to sew? Take this gift that God has blessed you with and use it to bless your friend! I told you earlier that I wasn’t excited about having to get to know another group of ladies. I love to send note cards to folks. So I used this “love” to write to each of the ladies in the church thanking them for welcoming me and my family into their church family. This opened doors with these ladies and it did not take long before we got to know each other better.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
If you love to sew, make your friend(s) a Bible book cover or apron… you know, a “just because” you love her gift. If you love to play the piano, record yourself playing some of her favorite hymns and give her the cassette If you love to cook? Next time you make lasagna or whatever, make a little extra for her and her family. We always seem to wonder what we can do to bless our friend. There are so many ways. Can’t think of anything? Does your friend have children?
Babysitters are so expensive, why not offer your time to her? Watch her
children while she goes out shopping or watch them so she and hubby can have a date. Many times, the BEST gift we can give our friend is our “time”!
Praying is the BEST thing we can do for our friend(s). The BEST thing we
can do for our friend is to lift her needs daily before the Throne. There are always things that we don’t ask God about for ourselves… your friend probably has things she would never ask God about but YOU could ask God on her behalf. Ask her periodically what she needs you to pray about. Ask her to be specific, for example, baby needs new shoes this month or your friend would really like to have material to make a couple of new dresses. Lift your friend up to God frequently and thank God for placing her in your life. Ask Him to show you ways to be a better friend to her. Ask Him to show you what areas He wants to use you in. God loves a willing vessel.
Now … take your abilities of prayer, gifts, & love and get to work at being the best friend you can possibly be.
In closing, your gift of friendship does not need to be limited to just one or two friends. Be a blessing to someone in need. Be a friend to someone who is in need of a friend. I’m sure there is a lady in your church who needs befriending. I’m sure you can think of someone right now that appears lonely. Is there a widow in your church family? Is there a lady whose family lives out-of-state and she’s alone? If you can’t find someone, ask your pastor or your pastor’s wife if they know someone who could use a friend like you.
God bless you as you hone your “friend” skills in light of God’s Word.