Friendship is one of the necessities of life. I am a fairly independent, solitary person. Even my career of choice is somewhat solitary because when you get right down to it, writing is something you have to do alone. Even if you interview someone and get information from them, it’s still up to you to write it down and usually you’ll do that by yourself.
But as important as friendship is, wouldn’t you think that all friendships would last forever? That’s not the case, though. Some friendships last through high school. Some last through college. Others may only last the week of a church camp.
But then … you have the friendships that last a lifetime. There are a couple of examples of those kinds of friendship in Scripture, but the one that always comes to mind when I think of real friendship is David and Jonathan.
Today’s verse is 1 Samuel 20:42.
At last Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the Lord’s name. The Lord is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.” Then David left, and Jonathan returned to the town.
If you want to do a study on friendship, David and Jonathan are the best example you can find in the Bible. One of the best passages you can look at is 1 Samuel 20:1-42. David, God’s chosen to be the next king of Israel. Jonathan, the crown prince of Israel, the son of the king. By all rights, they should have been enemies, but instead they were friends.
God brought them alongside each other to help each other and encourage each other at the darkest moments of their lives. So what made their friendship so special?
What is it that sets some friendships apart? Why do some friendships last longer than others?
This is just my opinion, but I think spontaneous friendships that only last a week or two and the friendships that last forever are separated by a single factor: the focus of the friendship. If you make friends with someone and you are only interested in what they can do for you, that’s a friendship that won’t last very long. But if you have a friendship where you intend to serve your friend, to encourage them, to help them, to support them even at personal cost to yourself, that’s a friendship that will last a lifetime.
If you look at your friendship as a divine appointment that God has arranged and treat your friend as though he or she is someone who God has put in your life, think about how that will change your relationship.
Of course, no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. But when your friend screws up, when your friend makes a mistake, when your friend hurts your feelings, when they disappoint you, how do you react? Do you hold it over their head? Do you feel satisfied and point out their flaws? Do you compare your own failings to theirs?
That’s not friendship. That’s selfish.
There were many things that Jonathan could have held over David’s head. There were many things David could have held against Jonathan. But they didn’t. They loved each other, and they wanted to help each other.
And that’s the way our friendships need to be.
Granted, there are some situations where a friendship needs to end. But I really feel that more often than not friendships that could have lasted a lifetime come to an end prematurely because people get their perspectives turned around. (And I’m not talking about dating or relationships of that nature; that’s similar but more complicated.)
So if you’re friends with someone and you’re wondering why they aren’t interested in giving you the attention you think you deserve, the first thing you need to do is to ask yourself how much of a friend you’ve been to them.
And if you have a friend who serves you, who sacrifices for you, who loves you unconditionally and accepts you the way you are (but always encourages you to improve yourself) … you are fortunate. No, you’re more than fortunate; you’re blessed. And you need to make sure you never take that friend for granted.