Focus on Friendships

The Bible is a book filled with instructions on friendships and the significance of friendships.  If you think hard enough many of you could come up with a number of verses about friendships and you certainly would remember that toward the end of His ministry Jesus simply called His disciples friends.  Early in the Old Testament you’ll find that Abraham was a friend of God.  What an incredible thing to think about that we can be friends of God.

It is no wonder that for so many decades “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer,” was a popular song to be sung for it tied us into a living, healthy, meaningful relationship with the Christ of glory.  Every day all along the way friendships are significant.  They are meaningful and they make life worth living.

As you think about friendships, it is important that you know that everybody you know is not necessarily your friend.  It is also significant to think about that everybody you know who you may like and wish they were your friend may not be your friend.  And there are people who probably think you are their friend when you don’t think that you are.  Complicated,
isn’t it?

I got to thinking about this recently when a friend of mine was expressing his appreciation for our friendship, and I in turn told him the same thing that I was so grateful that he’s my friend.  And he said, “You know what a true friend is, don’t you?  It is a person who says good things about you…behind your back.”  I thought how significant that they say good things about you behind your back.  That may really be a friend.  I said to him, “Well, that’s what I do for you because for years and I cannot think of any setting when this has not been true that when his name would come up or I would bring his name up and I would say something positive, healthy or wholesome about him, his life and his relationship to the Lord.  So, I thought, it is true in our relationship because he has treated me the same way behind my back.

Now what that means is that a person will not be two faced or false faced, or faked faced about you.  Your friendship is genuine regardless of where you might be or what the circumstances may be.  That does not mean that you have to agree with everybody about everything for that never happens.  But in spite of the fact that you do not agree with everybody about everything you can have friends and you can be a friend.  Friendships are built on the fact that you care and not just the fact that you agree.  If they are not genuine, true and transparent you at times may not be sure if you have a friendship or not.

You may feel like the man who was walking down the street and the dog came out from a house and was barking furiously and wagging his tail at the same time.  The owner of the dog came out and said, “He is friendly and will not bother you.”  The man said, “I hear what you are saying, but I do not know which end to believe.”  Typically a dog wagging his tail is friendly.  However, if he clamps down on your leg, you realize that you were watching the wrong end.

As you think about friendships another major truth that you need to keep in mind is that friends will be there when no one else will even come.  When push comes to shove and everything in life goes bad, who at your worst moment would you call and know that they would do what they could to help?  If you have ever gone through the experience of the loss of a family member or a dear friend and although there was nothing to say a friend simply came to talk with you then you know the difference a genuine friend who simply expresses care and concern for you can make.  So how do you develop friendships and how do you keep them intact?  Three words I would offer that may be helpful.

Word one is niceness.  Through the years it has been interesting to watch that it is the nice people who develop meaningful relationships.  I would not say that they are always nice, but the overarching part of their life is to be nice to others.  It is good to be nice, and it is a good thing to enjoy the niceness of a relationship.

A second word is negotiation.   I am not talking about negotiating a relationship but to give some flexibility to one another.  Most of your friends are probably not as perfect as you are.  Give them some space, give them a break and in turn they might do that for you.

The third word is to nurture.  I don’t mean you have to call them ten times a day.  You may not even see them for six months, but when you do it is a meaningful reconnection.  I have friends that because of space and time and the busyness of life we do not get to see each other very much or call, but when we do it is as if no time has passed.  We are friends and life is good.  You have to keep in mind that the other person has a part in this friendship and you have a part in the friendship so the Bible clearly instructs if a man is going to have friends, he must show himself to be friendly.  Be a friend and others will probably see you in the same light.

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Jim Futral
Executive Director-Treasurer