Do You have What It Takes to be a True Friend?

“A friend loves at all times…”

Proverbs 17:17a

Men joggingGodly friendship is so rewarding. One of the best examples can be found in 1 Samuel 23. This chapter illustrates the unique fellowship Jonathan and David shared. Total opposites — Jonathan was the well-educated, multi-talented, and privileged son of King Saul, while David was a poor shepherd boy, mocked by his brothers, and discouraged by his father. God saw David’s heart and passion, ultimately giving him great power and authority over others, and declaring David as “a man after His own heart.”

Jonathan’s father, Saul, was envious of David and plotted to kill the young lad, but Jonathan knew of his father’s evil intent and decided to protect and defend his friend. In Jonathan’s example, I find five necessary traits for a godly friendship:

  1. Be a giver and look for opportunities to meet a friend’s needs. In verse 16 we read, “And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.” Jonathan knew David needed to be encouraged and assisted in his faith. Jonathan denied his rightful position to inherit the throne, so he could give support to his friend.
  2. Encourage your friend. “You will be king,” stated Jonathan. He expressed his loyalty with a covenant before God. He loved and supported David with encouraging words. We all need encouragement — especially when life gets rough. Letting our friend know we believe in him, we see God working in his life, and that he’s making a difference can cheer a weary heart and give him the much-needed confidence to “continue the race.”
  3. Remind your friend of God’s truth, purpose, and plan. Continually point him back to who he is in Christ, how God made him, and where you see God leading him. Help paint a bright, but realistic future for your friend. Jonathan knew of God’s ultimate plan for David and chose to support that vision over his cruel father’s intentions. It may very well have been why David later wrote, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” (Psalm 27:10)
  4. Follow through on your commitments. Jonathan knew how important it was to David that he follow through with his promise to protect and defend him. Whatever the pressure from his father and others, Jonathan stood beside David and focused upon God’s promise for this valiant warrior. “’Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you.’” vs. 17. Jonathan modeled unconditional acceptance, absolute loyalty, and unquestionable commitment — even to the point of self-sacrifice.
  5. Be willing to extend grace and forgive. Jonathan was willing to forget the past and focus upon David’s future. He chose not to remember David’s shortcomings, but elected to think about his strengths. Good friends are not without conflict; they are friends who value the relationship enough to work through it, give grace when needed, and forgive always.

Despite the challenges and even the possibility of a major confrontation, Jonathan stayed by his friend’s side. He recognized his own calling and made sure David had the support, encouragement, and confidence he needed to fulfill God’s plan for his life. He was a true friend. If you want godly friendships in your life, you must first be a true friend. When we seek God first in our lives, we become more like Him and His unconditional love can flow through us.

Personal Application

How do these verses speak to you?

  • “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:13–14
  • “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Ask the Lord to mold you, grow you, and instill His character in your life so that you may love others genuinely and experience godly friendships.

Jim Grassi image and signature  Jim Grassi, D. Min.