We were not made to live in isolation. We were made for a relationship with Jesus and people around us. In the people group that are around us, we are blessed to have some that become true friends. Charles R. Swindoll says, “I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.”
One of the many things that happens inside YBL small groups is that new friendships always form. As men study the Bible, experience fellowship, prayer and encouragement, it just seems to happen. For many men, this is their first experience with a real friend. So many men that I meet with have many acquaintances that they call friends. You know…those people that you talk about the news, sports and weather with and never really get to know beyond the surface- level stuff. Those are safe relationships. We are good with this level of relationships because we do not have to open up and allow the real me to come out. That “me” that struggles with self-esteem, marriage issues, financial issues and many other real-life circumstances. We seem to desire to put a smile on our face and go on as if everything is great, yet underneath we are torn apart by all that life is throwing at us. Acquaintances will not help here. These require someone or someone’s that knows you way beyond the surface level conversations. So, how many true friends do you have?
Ron Edmondson wrote the blog post below that summarizes four characteristics of true friendship. As you read, consider these characteristics and a couple of questions:
- Do I have these kinds of friends in my life?
- Am I this kind of friend to people in my life?
Characteristics of True Friendships – Ron Edmondson
True friendship is rare.
I have had many friends in my life but finding one that stands the tests of time—that’s hard.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
“For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”(Ecclesiastes 4:10)
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
Those kind of friends—are hard to find.
If you have ever gotten in a bind, had a major failure, or somehow lost your way, then you realized just how rare true friendship really is in our lives. The true friends show up at your doorstep ready to help.
To me, the difference in a true friend and one who calls themselves a friend but is really an acquaintance is fairly easily identified.
4 Characteristics of True Friendship
Unconditional love – A true friend loves at all times. Regardless of what you do, what happens, or where life takes you, a true friend loves at all times. On your worst day—when you aren’t even fun to be around—a true friend still takes you to lunch. (And likely pays.)
Unwavering support – True friends are in it for the long haul. Even when you’ve fallen—or disagree with you completely—a true friend is in your corner. When you call—even when you’re in trouble—they come. True friendships may only be for a season. I have many of those. But if we run into each other again we pick up where we left off. Trust is already established. The relationship is just as strong. True friendships are consistent.
Willingness to challenge – Love and support is not ignoring the words you need to hear. A true friendship makes you better. The Bible says “iron sharpens iron.” True friends will correct you if needed. Proverbs 27:5 says, “Better an open rebuke than hidden love.” Friends won’t let you injure yourself or others if they can intervene. They won’t remain silent with what you need to hear—and it will be shared in the deepest of love.
Full of grace – True friendship weather the sometime difficulties of relationships, forgiving when needed, and loving each other even when it hurts. A true friendship isn’t one-sided. Both friends are willing to lay down their life for the other. Grace is freely and generously given.
We all need true friends that are filled with unconditional love, have unwavering support, a willingness to challenge us and are full of grace. Simon Sinek said it this way: “The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when.”