The True Measure of a Friend

Written by Wesley Franson / October 2015

A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” -Proverbs 12:26

Friendship is important throughout life, but in youth and young adulthood, friends hold a much more significant role than they will even five or ten years down the road. C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”

God saw Adam and made a companion for him. A Friend. God knows our needs as Christians. He knows us inside and out and has promised that whenever difficulty arises, there will always be way to endure it (1 Cor. 10:13). Oftentimes, it is through the friends the Lord puts in our lives that we find the strength we need to endure a difficult situation.

There is no greater love than the self-sacrificing love of one friend for another, just as Jesus showed His self-sacrificing love for us.

God told us a lot about friendship in His Word. This summary is a tool for us to consider friendship in our own lives. Reflect on the friend you have been. Reflect on the friends you have chosen. Thank God for those who fit these criteria, and pray for growth in your own friendships when they fall short.

Christian friends love

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” -John 15:12-15

The ultimate friend we have is Jesus. Out of his love for us, He lived a perfect life, died for us, and rose; all because he loves us. Because Christ loves us enough to do this and the Holy Spirit works faith in us, we are able to love the Lord. A Christian friend’s love for the Lord then reflects to the love they have for one another. There is no greater love than the self-sacrificing love of one friend for another, just as Jesus showed His self-sacrificing love for us.

Christian friends are loyal

There might not be a better picture of Christian friendship in the Bible than Jonathan and David. 1 Samuel says “The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David.” Jonathan was loyal to his friend. He stood up for his friend to his father, the King.

Jesus also was a loyal friend to us, never hesitating to take our sins upon Himself and die for them. Though He had done nothing wrong, Jesus willingly suffered great pains for us. In our own friendships, let’s strive to reflect that love Christ showed for us.

Christian friends rebuke

“Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” -Proverbs 27: 5-6

Friendship shows you a wider spectrum of a person. In this view, we may see their faults and shortcomings; they will likely see our own as well. A godly friend rebukes, lovingly, to help a friend find their way. This is hard to do. As Christian friends, correcting a close friend, or being corrected by a close friend, can be one of the most difficult burdens we bear. Receiving and accepting these rebukes with the tenderheartedness that God requests is a great way to ensure a friendship that doesn’t hamper a chastising word.

Jesus, the ultimate friend, often rebuked his disciples. Though His words were cutting, they were made out of love to correct the disciples’ missteps or misconceptions of the crucial, saving message they were preparing to spread.

Christian friends build up

A Christian friend does not simply rebuke. After they show their friend that they have sinned, the Christian friend forgives and builds one another up in the faith. Paul said it best when addressing the congregation in Ephesus:

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:29-32

Friendship is a blessing, and Christian friendship can be one of the most edifying gifts God brings to us in our daily struggles. As we fight the good fight of faith, it is comforting to know that we have a refuge, a fortress. The blessing of Christian friends gives a feeling of home that few things can; safety from the storm outside.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” -Proverbs 19:20