Biblical Friendship: How to have it?
Abraham Lincoln’s friendships were famous. Friend was one of his favorite words. He opened his letters with the word friend and often closed them the same way. “The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships,” Mr. Lincoln wrote to Joseph Gillespie in 1849. While speaking to the Washington Temperance society in 1842 he said, “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.”
Friendship is far more important than most of us realize. Proverbs is full of wisdom about the benefits and dangers of friendship. Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Relationships matter. The kind of people that we invest in or invest in us affects our character, way of life, and decision-making.
Friendship is a universal human relationship and there is a lot of information about what friendship looks like, however, Scripture has the richest teaching on friendship available. Being an ideal friend is difficult unless you understand friendship from a Biblical perspective.
Jonathan and David’s friendship is probably the most famous relationship in the Bible and maybe in history itself. Jonathan was the crown prince of Israel. Monarchies pass the crown down the family line and Jonathan was next in line. He was without question qualified, competent, and capable. He was a man of character and uncommon bravery. And yet he knew that God had chosen David as the next king of Israel.
It was David who fought Goliath on behalf of Israel, and it was David who led the people of Israel to victory over its enemies. It was also David who consoled Saul whenever his fits of depression and rage threatened to overwhelm him.
David’s success was also his downfall. Saul became so jealous of David’s success that he sought to kill David. In the midst of Saul’s growing jealousy was a growing friendship between Jonathan and David. 1 Samuel 18 tells us that their souls were knit together.
It’s important to realize that they didn’t do the knitting. God did it.
We can’t force friendship. The only things we can do are pray for it, be that friend, and receive it when it comes to us.
So here’s the question:
How do we have Biblical Friendship?
- Pray for it.
- Be that friend.
- Receive it when it comes.
So what does it look like?
Being committed to the success of the another person is true friendship.
1 Samuel 18 tells us that Jonathan made a covenant with David and sealed it by giving David his robe, his armor, his sword, bow, and belt. Jonathan gave David every single article that identified him as the crown prince of Israel
This is an incredible picture of what friendship looks like. Jonathan was one hundred percent committed to David and backed it up with markers of his commitment. He was in essence saying, “I will support you, encourage you, and help you prosper in God’s plan for your life.”
Make it Personal
Have you committed yourself to someone else to the extent that you support, encourage and help him or her prosper in God’s plan for his or her life? Are you someone’s Jonathan?
Be that friend. Even if it’s not returned, be that friend to others.
If You Don’t Have A Friend
You may say, “I don’t have a friend like that.” Yes, you do!
Yes, you do!
Jesus is the friend we all need. He is the friend who is closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). He never leaves us or forsakes us. He assured us of his friendship (John 15:12-17). He loved us all the way to the cross! If you are lonely for friendship now, then even your solitude will help you focus on your relationship with Jesus, the ultimate friend.
Spend some time today thinking about the relationships in your life. Who are your friends and how can you be a better friend to others? How can you also receive the friends that come your way? More important, how can you grow in your relationship with Jesus, the one friend you need most?
-  William E. Barton, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume I, p. 471.