I have a friend. She came into my life unexpectedly before one of the most difficult seasons of my life. God knew what He was doing when He connected us during an Upward basketball season. She is a friend that has walked me through many trials and many celebrations over the last 6 years.
She is faithful to God and brings Him into every conversation. I can be myself with her. And she is real with me. She calls me up and encourages me to be who God created me to be and do what He has called me to do. When I come home from coffee with her, I am filled up and ready to take on another day. When my kids ask how my time with her went, Rebekah always completes my sentence by saying, “Everyone needs a friend like her!” (I’ve probably said that a dozen times!) And that is true. She is Faithful to God, Real, an Influencer and an Encourager.
She embodies those 4 character traits of a good friend that we covered last week. Today we are going to finish with the last 3. A good friend is…
The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. -Proverbs 12:26
We all have friends or acquaintances that are a little strange, but that is not necessarily what I am talking about here. What I mean is the world has a definition of normal behavior and normal friendships. God has called us to not copy the behavior and customs of the world but to live a transformed life that is holy like He is holy. (See Romans 12:2) It is important that we hang out with others who have chosen to not follow the customs of this world but instead live the life of a citizen of heaven.
Ask yourself: Am I living differently than the world? Does my normal way of life properly display the life of a child of God? Do my friendships help me live the life God has called me to live or do they create tension between who I want to be and who I really am?
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. -Proverbs 18:24
We all need a friend who knows when it’s our birthday. We need a friend who doesn’t stand you up for a coffee date and is always willing to help you out in a time of need. Few people are dependable by nature. Most of us have to learn this skill. I for one am terrible about remembering dates. So I have to put my friend’s birthdays, appointments and events in my calendar if I have any hope of remembering to follow up or do something about it.
Another aspect of being dependable is making the commitment that they will be your friend no matter what. We have all had friends that make you constantly unsure of where you stand in your relationship with them. You don’t know from day to day if they will be a friend or a frenemy, or if they will even notice that you are in the room. A true friend is consistent no matter where you are or who you are with.
Ask yourself: Am I a dependable friend? Do I remember birthdays or big events going on in my friend’s life? If I don’t, what can I do to help me remember? Am I the same person no matter where I see my friend?
Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. -Ephesians 4:32
No friendship has ever escaped conflict. Misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and forgetfulness can all cause conflict. We are all human, and we will all make mistakes. A good friend will handle those conflicts with grace and forgiveness. Good friends create a safe place for conflict resolution. A place where the other person is given the benefit of the doubt and given an opportunity to share their side of the story. They create an environment that has the goal of forgiveness and resolution. A good friend also keeps a secret and refuses to gossip about the other person.
Ask yourself: What is my response to conflict? Do I avoid it, attack it or handle it with grace and forgiveness? Do I come to conflict with a posture of learning about the other side or defending myself? How can I become a safe person to work out the conflict that will arise?
Like we did last week, ask yourself the following questions using each of the character traits listed:
Am I dependable?
Is my child dependable?
Is my friend dependable?
After you have asked yourself these questions we encourage you to talk with your children about their own life and their own friends. Start a conversation about why it is important that we hang out with the right people. Come up with ideas on how to be a good friend. Talk about what other character traits would you consider as a necessity for the definition of a good friend?
We were listening to Joe McGee and he gave a great exercise to do with your child. Have your kids read through the book of Proverbs and pull out every verse that talks about friends or hanging out with other people. Then talk with them about the verses and discuss why each type of person is a good person or bad person to hang out with.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. -Colossians 3:12-14
A good friend is:
Faithful to God