- Posted by Edith Ohaja
- On July 25, 2018
- 10 Comments
I received a question from one of my young friends yesterday. In answering it, I thought it will be best to do a full post on the subject because it wasn’t the first time I’d been asked the same question. To prevent the clumsiness of using both masculine and feminine pronouns, I’ll stick to the feminine since the question came from a girl, but the answer applies to both genders. I hope that many are blessed through reading this post both in identifying true friends and in being such friends themselves.
“Please, ma, l really need your help. How can you know a true friend?” – Faith O.
Hi Faith! I’m glad you asked this question because friendship is an important aspect of life and the right friends can go a long way in making our lives easier and sweeter while the wrong friends can ruin us.
Before I outline signs we can use to identify true friends, I want us to look at two examples of friendship from the Bible, one good, the other bad.
The first is David’s famous friendship with Prince Jonathan which began after David killed Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. The Bible says in 1 Samuel 18:3 that Jonathan loved David as his own soul. That was why even though his father, King Saul, was trying to secure the kingdom for him by killing David, Jonathan defended David and helped him escape (1 Samuel 19:1-7; 1 Samuel 20). And while David was on the run, he came to visit and encourage him (1 Samuel 19:1-7; 1 Samuel 20; 1 Samuel 23:16-18).
(Related: Meet My BFFL – Best Friend for Life)
Unlike his father, Saul, Jonathan was not envious of Gods anointing on David concerning the kingship. He wanted to see David succeed and would have been content with a secondary role. You can see why David was devastated at the death of Jonathan and mourned him deeply (2 Samuel 1:11-27).
On the other hand, we have Job and his three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar) who came to commiserate with him when misfortune befell him. At first, they did well (Job 2:11-13). At the sight of him they wept, then they sat quietly beside him for a week because they saw that his suffering was great. (Job had lost his children, his wealth and his health.)
Later, however, when they tried to make sense of his situation and proffer solutions, they missed it because they wrongly accused Job of wrongdoing and of being responsible for his plight. It became their word against his and they lost their sympathy for him in the ensuing arguments.
When you juxtapose these two kinds of friendship, you will begin to see the differences between a true and a false friend. But I will itemise them for easy identification.
7 Ways To Know A True Friend
A true friend helps you. She shares what she has with you when you’re in need. Anyone who keeps taking from you without giving back is not a true friend.
A true friend tells you the truth, even when it hurts. She does not deceive or flatter you.
(When Amnon, David’s first son was lusting after his half-sister, Tamar, if Jonadab his cousin and friend whom he confided in had told him to snap out of it, he wouldn’t have lost his life at Absalom’s hand. Instead, Jonadab gave Amnon terrible advice. He told Amnon how to trick Tamar into being alone with him in his bedroom. Amnon raped Tamar and her brother, Absalom, killed him in revenge – 2 Samuel 13:1-29).
(Related: When Giving Advice Gets Tricky)
A true friend supports you, she does not pull you down. Even when you guys are competing for something, she will be fair (‘Let the better side win’), not play dirty to win.
A true friend encourages you, she does not mock you or terrify you. She will urge you to pursue your dreams. In short, she will want to see you become the best that you can be.
A true friend keeps your secrets. She does not reveal them to tarnish your image or get along with others.
A true friend defends you, she does not join others to fight or castigate you. Even when you’re wrong, she corrects you in love. She does not join the crowd to say, “Crucify her!”
A true friend stays with you whether you’re up or down, rich or poor, healthy or sick. She rejoices with you when things are rosy in your life, she grieves with you when the opposite is the case. In other words, fair weather friends are not true friends.
(Related: Miss P and I)
As you can see, a true friend is a gift from God. She is loyal, unselfish and caring. She also prays for you if she’s spiritual. We need to be that kind of friend ourselves to those close to us if we want to receive the same treatment from others.
Ultimately, the best friend of all is Jesus. Relating with Him through the Holy Spirit helps us to learn how to care for our friends and be cared for.
(Related: There Is A Friend – Poem)
Here are a few pertinent Bible verses on this subject:
“To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend” – Job 6:14.
“Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” – Proverbs 27:5-6
“A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” – Proverbs 11:13
“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24
Are there other ways you can think of through which we can identify true friends?
Perhaps you would like to share a testimony about someone whose friendship has truly blessed your life as I’ve done in two of the Related Posts above.
The scriptures used in this post are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
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