My best friends from college were in town a couple weeks ago, and once again we stayed up too late, making each other laugh so hard we had tears in our eyes. These are the kind of friends everyone hopes to have in life, the kind you can count on no matter what you are going through. In the good times and bad, these two have been there for my wife and I.
It made me think about what having and being a real friend is all about. In the 28 years I’ve been friends with Dave and Anastacia, I’ve also had a lot of friendships that came and went. People that I thought were my friends, but turned out to have a different agenda, “friends” who were there when it was going great in my life, but when the chips were down, they cashed out.
We all need real friends to help us in life; we weren’t designed to do life as a solo act. But not all friendships are created equal. The Bible gives us three keys to a solid, lasting friendship for when we are choosing friends, and when we have the opportunity to be a friend.
The first is, a true friend gives emotional support. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and brother is born for a time of adversity.” A true friend is the one who walks into your life when everyone else is walking out. When the chips are down, they are all in with you. When I was battling cancer, lots of people sent me get well cards, but only a few shaved their heads. That was their way of saying they were with me all the way, and I will never forget that support.
The second sign of a true friend is their intellectual support. Do your friends make you think, or do they put you to sleep? Proverbs 13:20 says, “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” That’s pretty clear! I love it when my friends learn something new and challenge me with it. It keeps my mind sharp to be around sharp people. Do you have friends that make you smarter when you are around them?
The third sign of a true friend is spiritual support. We all need moral support – people to support us when we’re being moral. Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” I have a few friends that I meet with on a regular basis to check in, encourage each other and pray for each other. Who is it in your life that is motivating you to be closer to God?
And if you want to have those kinds of friends in your life, it starts with being that kind of friend to others. Birds of a feather flock together. So remember: be the kind of friend you want to have.
Pastor Bill McCready of LifePoint Church is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.