True friends (lifelong friends) are hard to find, mostly because over time people change, as do we. But when shared values, shared life experiences, and shared seasons meet, we look over and discover there is a friend waiting with whom we can often link arms.
This is one of the great perks of being a Christian. We don’t have to question (at least too much) the shared value we have in God and his Scripture. And this takes a lot of the mystery out of brotherhood. Yet we still have the obstacles of everyday life that prohibit friendship. Even so, there are friends that will stick with us through these changing seasons. There are those who will stick closer than a brother, simply because they care. And they frequently show they care in these ways.
True Friends care about our relationship with God first.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
True friends have one spiritual priority, both for themselves and for us: God and his righteous way of life. Everything else is a radical second. While we may talk about politics, sports, and the latest issue at work, they have a mind for God. They care about how we think, how we discuss, how we respond, and even more, our attitude regarding all these things. They are concerned with matters of the heart and how to consistently keep our heart, character, and spirit aligned with God’s will.
True Friends love unconditionally, but also want us to change.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Proverbs 17:17)
Without a doubt we need to be loved. Men don’t like to use this term but that is exactly what it is: love. Many times, this love will exceed that of a flesh and blood brother because it is less presumptive and more gracious. This is unconditional love with no strings attached. But this does not mean it accepts disobedience without a desire for change, for this would actually be unloving. We need brothers that lovingly accept us but also want a better future for us; and this demands change. This is true brotherly love.
True Friends to our aid when we need it.
And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. (Luke 5:18-19)
Yep, this is pretty cool. This man had some friends and they all wanted the best for him. Their friendship was so strong they went overboard for him. They pushed through the crowds, dug through a roof, and lowered him carefully and strategically at the feet of Jesus. How about that for friendship?
I have read this story many times and asked myself, “Do I have friends like that?” Friends that will come to my aid at fourth-and-goal, even when it puts them out? We should all ask ourselves this question.
But there may be a far more important question to ask ourselves. Are you that type of friend? Are you a friend that cares about your brother’s relationship with God? Do you unconditionally love but want to see your brother change? Do you rush to your brother’s aid? If not, then be a friend today! You may discover along the road of life that simply by being a great friend, you will make great friends.
Just hear these words from our greatest friend, the friend of sinners: Jesus Christ:
Greater love has no one than this: that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
This article is an excerpt from Vince Miller’s book, 20 Lessons That Build a Man’s Friends.