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Wednesday, June 02, 2010


I've said it before ... and I'll keep saying it. The Bible has explicit guidance for any kind of challenge life can dish out. In fact, I've challenged people to hand me a problem that I can't solve with my Bible. And I've never been beaten in such challenges either!

Recently someone complained to me that they don't have any friends. I asked them if they knew how to get friends, keep friends or even be a friend. As you might guess, their answers were pretty lame. So I asked this individual what qualities they possessed that would make them desirable as someone else's friend. Again, their answers were pretty lame (and maybe not very truthful).

It is in times like this that the Bible takes center stage. It is replete with wisdom and advice. It even offers life models to show us how it's done. Naturally, we start with the Biblical principles of loving God and loving others as you would like to be loved and as God loves you. Most of us aren't too good as discerning our own behaviors, or evaluating them against these basic Biblical principles. So it's helpful to look at some specific Scripture references to get us there.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 & 7 gives us a comprehensive definition of this love we're supposed to have for God and then for others. Patient. Kind. Not boastful or proud. Not rude or self-seeking or easily angered --- keeping no record of wrongs (and always leading with forgiveness for everything). Always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.

Look at those words. Think about that. Consider their meaning. Patient. Kind. Do you know what those look like? Do you know how to put them into action? These are the challenges for someone who wants a friend - to learn the true meaning of these words, think about those meanings often, and put them into practical application in their everyday life.

1 Samuel, starting in chapter 18, gives us a wonderful picture of a deep and lasting friendship. Ironically, this friendship contains all of the elements of love as defined in 1 Corinthians 13! It's the story of Jonathan and David. Jonathan was the son of King Saul, and in line to inherent the throne. David was a present servant to the king, and God had selected him to inherent the throne from Saul - knocking Jonathan out of his rightful inheritance. This gives us some context for a few of the relationship dynamics that challenged these two guys.

But the Bible tells us that when David and Jonathan met, they decided to become good friends at once. In fact, their relationship is one of the deepest and closest of any recorded in the Bible. So what did these guys do that made their friendship so tight ... and so remarkable?

1. They were intentional about the friendship. Friendships don't just happen. And you don't just make them. Friendships have to be intentionally developed and nurtured.

2. They based their friendship on commitment to God. The Bible tells us that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. In other words, our deepest, closest friendships are meant to be found in people who share our faith. So God is the first basis for a true friendship.

3. They let nothing come between them. No even career or family problems. When Jonathan's Dad tried to kill David, neither David or Jonathan questioned their friendship. Friends know who they are to each other, and they don't let anyone get in the way of that clear view.

4. They drew close together when their friendship was tested. Said differently, true friends intentionally seek each other out during circumstances that would normally threaten a friendship.

5. They were committed to each other, just as in a marriage commitment. They remained close friends to the end. True friendships aren't for a season. They endure for all time. (Otherwise they weren't true friendships in the Biblical sense of the word!)

6. They didn't put a price on their friendship. Jonathan would much rather lose the throne of Israel than lose his closest friend. True friendships endure at any cost. And sometimes they can be very costly.

Our society is using the term "friendship" pretty loosely these days. Facebook has given us an ever cheaper meaning to it. We are "friends" there with people we've never even met! Ironically, the world gets ever more lonely for most of us.

There was a time in my life when I was one of those people who didn't really have any friends. I'm so grateful that I learned how to be a friend. I'm blessed today with some deep, enduring friendships. And when I look at those friendships, it's no surprise that I see they exhibit all of these dynamics I'm talking about today.

Perhaps it's time we all dusted off our Bibles and took a basic lesson in friendship. My Bible is the source of all truth and knowledge. It has the solutions to all of life's challenges. I've said it before. And I'll keep saying it.

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