I’m sure that everyone reading this likes getting gifts. It’s almost as much fun to give gifts. Have you ever thought of friendship as being a gift that you can give to someone? In the following story, Jason learned that age doesn’t affect the giving of this gift.
“Upon arriving in our new home in Kentucky, my seven-year-old son Jason decided to explore the neighbourhood. He was back within the hour proclaiming that he had made some new friends.
‘Good. Are they boys or girls?’ I asked ‘One is a boy and one is a girl,’ he replied.
‘That’s great,’ I said. ‘How old are they?’ ‘Mom,’ my son replied, almost shocked.
‘That would be very rude to ask.’
I was puzzled at his response. About an hour later, he was back.
‘Mom!’ my son shouted through the screen door. ‘I found out how old my new friends are. The girl is 65 and the boy is 70.’1 Many has to be experienced to be understood. Friendship is a gift, one that is tied with heartstrings. It defies age, time, and distance. It conquers social status and family feuds. It is two hearts with one pulse.
We have been given many examples of friendship in the Bible. You may be able to think of some right now.
For example, think of David and Jonathan. David had been anointed as the next king of Israel because of Saul’s sins. Then David came to the palace, and met the king’s son, Jonathan. How would you feel seeing the rival to your throne in front of you? How did Jonathan react? It is written that “…Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.”2 Not only did they make a covenant, but Jonathan also gave David a gift, his robe, sword, bow, and girdle. At this time, this was a very expensive gift, as only kings’ sons had swords.
The Bible goes on to tell us that Jonathan delighted in David, and warned him of his father’s threats to his life. Unfortunately this story ends sadly, as Jonathan was killed in battle with the Philistines. When David was told of Jonathan’s death, he wept bitterly. The Bible says that he fasted and wept a whole day for him. And David wrote a song about him: “Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleas- ant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”3 “…the name of Jonathan is treasured in heaven, and it stands on earth a witness to the existence and the power of unselfish love.”4
You may say, how can I have friends?
The Bible gives us a very simple but profound solution to this question. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:”5 For a few years I found it very hard to get friends, mostly because I was shy, and thought that people thought I was stupid. But when I tried being friendly to them, I found that most people were willing to be friends with me. Wanting to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit. It takes work to be friends with someone, taking time to be with them, talking to them, giving little gifts, etc. But be sure that you will have friends. “Everyone will find companions or make them. And just in proportion to the strength of the friendship will be the amount of influence which friends will exert over one another for good or for evil. All will have associates and will influence and be influenced in their turn.”6
Who can we be friends with?
Our Parents – Do you think it is possible to be friends with your parents? Parents, do you want to be friends with your children? As I grew up, I lived in an isolated area, and it was difficult for me to have friends, so of necessity I turned to my parents for friendship. Even to this day, I am not sorry for that time. I learned to be friends with my parents before anybody could make me think they were stupid or old-fashioned. I told them what bothered me, what I needed help with, and what I enjoyed. I believe this was the original intention of God, when the instruction was given to the Hebrews that they were to teach their children at all times (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). I am also very thankful that I had parents who were willing to be friends with me; they were not too busy to listen to what I needed to say.
Parents, you would save yourselves years of heart-ache, if you would only take the time now to be friends with your children. “Teach them to make you their confidant. Let them whisper in your ear their trials and joys.” 7 “Give some of your leisure hours to your children; associate with them in their work and in their sports, and win their confidence. Cultivate their friendship.” 8 You might be surprised to realise just how much your children want you to be friends with them. And if you think that you don’t have time for this sort of thing, then you should never have taken that responsibility upon yourself.
Brothers/Sisters – As children growing up, my sister and I had a very interesting friendship. Most of the time we were quite happy to play and do our schoolwork together. But sometimes a very perverse spirit got into both of us, and because we knew our mum hated us arguing, we would find anything and everything to argue about. Sometimes we fought just for the sake of fighting. I must say that with most brothers and sisters, this verse is quite true, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”9 But it doesn’t need to be the case. Now my sister and I get along a lot better, but that may be because I don’t live at home any more. We look back at those times and think how stupid we were to act like that.
Husband/Wife – In the very beginning, God saw that it was not good for a man to be alone, therefore He gave him a person that could be his closest friend. God designed that this friendship would be the closest that human beings can experience. “Then marriage, instead of being the end of love, will be as it were the very beginning of love. The warmth of true looking for someone who could be this kind of friend to me. Through a friend, the Lord gave me Csongi. We started writing to each other, and our friendship grew. Now that we are married, this friendship is stronger than ever.
It is especially important that nothing be allowed to weaken or break this friendship. Never dwell on the things that your wife/husband may have done that hurt you, and never tell these things to others. The devil could one day use this to convince you that you made a mistake in marrying this person.
Talk to each other about everything. Be prepared to listen to what the other has to say. These little things can keep the love and friendship strong for a lifetime.
Wrong kinds of friendship
Friendship with people who don’t believe the way you do could cause you to give up everything you believe in. The Bible tells us “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”11
Is a friendship with someone who doesn’t care what God thinks really so important to us that we would be willing to risk our friendship with God? When they want you to do something you know is wrong, to which friendship do you keep allegiance? It’s easy to do what earthly friends want, because we can see them.
If you want to keep your friendship with God strong, you are better off having friends who also want to be friends with
God. “Better than all the friendship of the world is the friendship of Christ’s redeemed.”12
The Best Friend
“The best friend to have is Jesus…” the hymn tells us, and how true this is. Who can understand everything that you are going through better than the One who came to this earth to save you. He has overcome all things so that you can have the same victory.
“…we need to learn the art of trusting our very best Friend. …Begin now to fix your minds more firmly upon Jesus…”13
“…why not choose Him now as our most loved and trusted friend, our best and wisest counselor.”14 He is waiting for you, He wants to call you His friend, He wants to be as an elder brother to you.
Friendship is a gift, a gift that both people in this world and Jesus want to give to you. It is also a gift that you can give to someone else. Here are some friendship gifts that you can give to your friends.
- The Gift of Listening: But you must REALLY listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening.
- The Gift of Affection: Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and handholds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.
- The Gift of Laughter: Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.”
- The Gift of a Written Note: It can be a simple “Thanks for the help” note or a full sonnet. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life.
- The Gift of a Compliment: A simple and sincere, “You look great in red,” “You did a super job” or “That was a wonderful meal” can make someone’s day.
- The Gift of a Favour: Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.
- The Gift of Solitude: There are times when we want nothing better than to be left alone. Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others.
- The Gift of a Cheerful Disposition: The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone. Really, it’s not that hard to say Hello or Thank You.
May each one of us tie our gift of friendship with heartstrings.
- Stories for a Woman’s Heart – New Friends, Teri Leinbaugh, page 24.
- 1 Samuel 18:3
- 2 Samuel 1:23,26
- Conflict & Courage p. 175.4
- Proverbs 18:24
- Adventist Home p. 455.3 (emphasis added)
- Adventist Home p. 191.1
- Adventist Home p. 192.2
- Proverbs 17:17
- Adventist Home p. 106.1
- James 4:4
- Christ Object Lessons p.374.3
- Gospel Workers p.422.1
- Lift Him Up p. 98.4