5 Characteristics of a Great Friend (Do any of these describe you?)
Love is often expressed as sacrifice. Parents sacrifice for their children. True friendships are no different. Have you ever had someone be inconvenienced for your sake? What does it tell you about how they feel about you? This is one way I would distinguish between an acquaintance and a friend. A friend will own the relationship to the point of sacrifice. There are times when they would rather be doing something else but you matter enough to be there.
It turns out that Jesus fulfils this characteristic quite well. He said, “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for ones friends” (John15:13). Then he did. Can a friend be more sacrificial than that?
2. “No Judgement here”
A true friend is someone who knows the real you and loves you anyway. All the masks are off. They know the ugly, tired, and cranky you, and yet they still stick around. You can tell this person anything because you know that he/she won’t judge you. What more can a person ask for than to feel safe with a friend who really knows you and stays?
I love the epic beginning to every service at our church which begins, “Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden…” I know for me, the amazing thing is that God knows everything about me and still loves me anyway.
The most precious commodity anyone has is time. We only have so much and there is no way to get any more. Friends invest time in each other. There is no other way to grow. This can be challenging, especially over long distances, but there is no substitute. In fact, you can often tell what is really important to a person by how they invest their time. Furthermore, there are moments that we often write off as a ‘waste of our time’, like a long wait in a check-out line, or slow moving traffic on the highway. However, these moments can actually be some of the richest relational times if we are looking for that opportunity.
When I read the accounts of Jesus, I love the fact that he was willing to give his time for anyone who wanted it. It didn’t matter what their profession, social status, reputation, or motives were he gave his time to everyone. He could have spent his time with kings and the powerful, but he instead sought out the weak, the poor, the sick and the outcasts.
4. Life is better
I had a friend when I was young who brought out the worst in me. Whenever we were together I learned bad habits, absorbed a bad attitude, and engaged in less-than-wholesome activities. I guess when you’re in those kinds of friendships it’s hard to see them for what they are sometimes. Thankfully, I also had friends along the way who clearly brought out the best in me. We had fun together, learned from each other, and (somehow) managed to stay out of too much trouble. Has your life been made better because of a friend? Do you have people in your life who can say, “My life is better because you’re in it?
One of the reasons I walk with Jesus is that he is exactly this kind of friend. I know what I was like before I chose to follow Jesus. It wasn’t pretty. Then somewhere along the journey I noticed that I was beginning to change. I felt love where there used to be mockery. I felt peace where there used to be depression. I felt purpose where there used to be selfishness.
A friend will defend you. One time I was talking to a group of people and the topic switched to a friend of mine. A person in the group accused my friend of saying something that could have seriously damaged his reputation. Now I know my friend quite well and I couldn’t imagine him saying anything close to this accusation. In that moment I had the choice to defend him, or to say nothing. I’m guessing that each of us can think of a similar moment when we’ve been given that choice.
Do you have friends that will defend you? Can your friends trust you to defend them when they’re not around? Jesus defended people all the time. One of my favorites was when there was a woman caught in adultery and the angry crowd standing around her was getting ready to stone her to death. Jesus walks up to the mob and says, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” And sure enough, eventually all the rocks get dropped.
So here are some thoughts for the day. Based on the above characteristics, are you a great friend? If someone approached the people in your life and asked them this question, what would they say about you? It’s worth taking some time and examining our friendships. Is it possible that there are a few areas that we could improve? Or maybe we need to look at how we’re investing our time? Are there people in our lives that don’t bring out the best in us? Part of this examination should cover our friendship with Jesus. We have all been offered the gift of friendship with the truest of friends. Are we letting a friendship with Jesus shape our lives and influence us every day?
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