Characteristics Of A Great Friend

God uses friendship to define one of the highest qualities of love. Great love is found in the context of true friendship. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

When we consider the world we live in, friendship has been very poorly defined. We wrongly believe friends are people who will do what we want them to and will agree with us when we want them to. We mistakenly expect that they will never argue or disagree with us. That is not true friendship; that is a selfish friendship.

The Bible speaks about a biblical kind of friendship. In fact, the Bible says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6) In other words, it means that sometimes a friend may say something to me that is not easy to hear. Yet if it’s the truth and it’s something God is saying, that makes that person a true friend. The Bible clearly defines a true or great friend and lays out the guidelines by which we can identify them.

A TRUE FRIEND WILL BE COMMITTED TO GOD’S VERY BEST IN YOUR LIFE.

Abraham Kuyper (1837 – 1920), a writer, minister, and former Dutch prime minister, wrote, “He is your friend who pushes you nearer to God.”

The Bible defines friendship in terms of one’s commitment to helping see God’s best in the other person, and supporting God’s commands. “You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14).

True friends are those who walk in when everyone else walks out. True friends are those who say, “It’s okay,” when we don’t have anything left. True friends are those who stay to resolve issues when you disagree because there is a commitment to the relationship that is more important than the specific problem at hand.

We need a friend who is committed to what is right, not who is right.

So if that’s the kind of friendships we want, where do we start?

1. START WITH THOSE YOU LOVE.

I’m talking about your family: your spouse if you are married, your kids if you have any, and others who are close to you. This advice may seem odd at first, but think about it. Sometimes the hardest ones to be friends with are the ones you love. The Bible tells us, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

The word “fervent” originates from a Greek phrase that means stretching and straining. So, when the Bible says to “keep fervent in your love for one another,” it’s telling us to develop and sustain the kind of love that has the flexibility and elasticity to be stretched and strained without breaking. It is that kind of love and friendship that covers a multitude of sins. God encourages us to develop relationships with one another that have the qualities of being stretched and strained. At the same time friendships should be able to endure because the relationship is more important than the mistakes and problems that are bound to occur within them. This is the kind of love Jesus has for all of us. We have all sinned and fallen short of His grace yet He loves us anyway.

So, now that we understand the kind of love and friendship we should have, let’s look at where to begin to develop these Godly relationships.

A. YOURSELF.

“…you shall love your neighbors as yourself” (Matt 19:19).

Love others as you love yourself because God knows that great friendships are not possible without that kind of grace. True friendship requires forgiveness, overlooking of weaknesses, and a willingness to not hold a grudge.

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly…”(Prov. 18:24). Ask yourself, “Are you known forgrace?” Grace does not mean compromising on sin. Jesus didn’t compromise on sin but he showed grace. So like Jesus if we are going to be people of great friendship, we need to be people of great grace.

B. YOUR SPOUSE.

Become friends with your spouse because when you befriend those you love everything else will fall into place. Otherwise, the following can happen: “It is better to live in a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (Prov. 25:24). This verse is saying that if you are not friends with your spouse, you are going to be very lonely.

C. YOUR FAMILY / CHILDREN.

As parents, we often have huge expectations of our children and feel that if we can make our children successful, we can right the imperfections of our own lives. These expectations can become a burden to the relationship and may prevent us from being friends with our children. I remember something Pastor Mark said, “You can control your children with authority but you cannot influence them without relationship.” This is so true. We need to recognize the importance of having a friendship with our children, not just birth association.

2. MAKE TIME TO BUILD FRIENDSHIPS.

Friendships are built in the margins of life. I would even say that people do not fall out of love; they fall out of friendship. Our lives have gotten so busy that we can easily eat up all the margins of free time in our lives and fall out of friendship. To build friendships, we must make time and increase our margins.

3. MAKE FRIENDS WITH GOD,

“I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Allow God to reveal to you what He is saying. Make friends with God. Spend time with Him during your daily devotions. Your devotional time is a great way for you to develop your friendship with God and through your relationship with Him you will develop the kind of love that defines a great friendship.

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