The Tiny Virtue of Biblical Friendship

Think about a friend you have who is your best friend. What characteristics define that person and the bond of friendship you share?

True friends are hard to come by.

tiny virtues friendshipOh it’s not like the half a million friends some people have on Facebook that they managed to secure with the email address “friend finder.” I hesitate to see what “friends” might turn up if Facebook looked at email addresses to find friends for me. I’ve received emails from businesses, church leaders with whom I’ve disagreed, spammers, Internet trolls, Christ haters, etc., by answering Bible questions via email over the years. Yes, some would be genuine friends with whom I’ve had correspondence for a decade or more. Others, well, let’s just say the word “friend” would involve quite a stretch of the imagination.

Friendship cannot be mistaken for the cheap imitations of popularity and patronage.

It’s like the social media warping of Kennedy’s thought to make it “Ask not what your friend can do for you (popularity), ask what you can do for your friend (patronage).” Popularity and patronage are highly visible.  True biblical friendship is deep and more hidden than wide.

People with genuine friendship skills are a rarity. This kind of biblical friendship is a tiny virtue that we see exhibited in exemplary Christian lives.

In the Bible, King David (before he was king) and Jonathan had such a friendship. It was a covenant of love in spite of Jonathan being the elder son of Saul who was the present king of Israel. Jonathan would have had accession rights to the throne as the firstborn son, but he saw God’s hand upon David ever since David returned victorious from the Goliath encounter. Jonathan gave David symbolic testimony of his covenant of friendship and devotion.

1 Samuel 18:1 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 2 From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. 3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 4 Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

Jonathan exemplifies characteristics of friendship. While he could be known as a daring man, one unafraid to place himself in harm’s way for the sake of his country Israel, it is his exemplary friendship that forms his most enduring legacy. He had an ardent brotherly love, an unselfish devotion to his friends, a willingness to sacrifice his right to be king, and he placed himself in danger to intercede for his father’s change of heart. In death, he was loyal to his father yet steadfast in friendship to David.  It reminds us of Christ’s words,

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13)

Ponder today: the distinction between popularity, patronage, and genuine friendship qualities.

Bible character of the day: Jonathan –see 1 Samuel 13:2-31, especially chapter 20.

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on September 6, 2016

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