The Value of Friendship
Who are your friends? Do you have one friend or many? Is everyone your “best friend” or do you reserve that title for that one special person? After college and graduate school, my view of friendships changed.
Friendships begin in all different places – church, work or even chance encounters in the store. In school, you have a built-in support system – parents, teachers, counselors, classmates and others in youth group at church. Those are the people who build you up in life. God created you to have friends who love and support you; and vise versa.
One of the best stories on friendship in the Bible is David and Jonathan’s friendship. 1 Samuel 18:1 (ESV) says,”…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” The friendship of David and Jonathan has always been one of the best parts of David’s story. According to I Samuel 16, Jonathan became friends with David when they were fighting the Philistines. During that time of adversity they became friends for life. Jonathan and David exhibited the most loyal of friendships. Jonathan’s father, Saul, threatened David and attempted to kill him but Jonathan stuck by David and protected him. Do your friends build you up, protect you, and remain loyal to you?
Throughout the Bible, there are other examples of friendships characterized by loyalty and sacrifice. Like the friendship between Ruth and Naomi from the book of Ruth. What a unique friendship these two had! Ruth was Naomi’s daughter–in–law. When all of Naomi’s sons died Ruth followed Naomi to a foreign land. This beautiful story ends with Naomi helping Ruth find the man she would marry.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. -Romans 12:15-16 (we even have a 21-day devotional study on this!)
As we learn from these stories of friendship, it takes a lot of work and time to cultivate strong friendships like this. It requires sacrifice, selflessness, dedication, and a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. It's about showing up and making time for the people in our lives.
I was talking recently to a newly married friend and she was talking about her perception on the value of friendship. She stated that being married actually taught her the value of friendships. Through marriage she learned that friendship is uniquely found in one's spouse. We put extreme emphasis on finding “the One.” Finding Eros or romantic love is a beautiful thing and something that should be celebrated. However, the Greeks believed there to be six different types of love. The type that they found to be the most special was philia or deep friendship. It is that deep bond between two souls – one that is not romantic, but loyal to the ends of the earth. A love that would sacrifice everything simply for another's wellbeing. The best example of this friendship is Jesus’ death on the cross.
Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends. -John 15:13
Do you have a friendship like that? Do you have people who you would sacrifice for or who would sacrifice for you (maybe not their lives but their time, their talents, and their gifts)?
Growing up one of my favorite childhood stories was Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. Throughout the entire series Anne was always searching for that special person whose soul her soul connected to. She would find that Philia with Dianna, Matthew and many others. Anne said, “To discover a kindred spirit is to find your heart in the heart of a friend.” What if we equally celebrated those kindred spirits in our life? I am extremely grateful to have been blessed with two such people in my life – ones who understand my heart and accept me for who I am. Perhaps those kindred spirts help give us a glimpse into the heart of Jesus. I pray that you have a kindred spirit and celebrate the friendship that you will be able to carry throughout your life.