Sometime back I was in a mall talking with a friend whose young daughter was playing in one of those special play areas, you know the ones with the rubberized floors and spongy fun-shaped obstacles to play on, jump from, and crawl through…a kid’s paradise. Inside this kid-wonderland were also benches for parents or grandparents to sit, or for kids to take a break from their adventures.
We sat down to chat and the daughter went off to play. As we talked I was a bit distracted trying to keep an eye on my friend’s little girl, but also noticing the wealth illustrations from the innocence and honesty of kids interacting with each other.
This smorgasbord of human behavior did not fail as I noticed a few little girls interacting. Their conversation went something like this:
Girl 1 to Girl 2, “That’s a pretty princess dress.”
Girl 2 in response, “Wanna see me twirl?”, as she moved her hair out of her face and she started to spin.
Girl 1 started to spin too. As they both looked at each other spinning and giggling and spinning some more, Girl 1 said, “Let’s be friends.”
Girl 2 responded with a big smile shaking her head in affirmation as her wispy blond hair bounced with every nod saying, “Ok.”
And they grabbed for each other’s hand and ran off to play.
I smiled and thought of how great it would be if we could make time to be friends like that. Now sure friendship takes more than just twirling and playing together. But what are some key elements to friendship?
The Bible has a lot to say about relationships and our interaction with each other. Actually the Bible has excellent guidance in being a good friend. So let me just pull out five actions that can truly transform your relationships:
1. Be Caring
In a world that looks to get rather than give, this is difficult. Sure we will show a bit of compassion and kindness when it benefits us, but to be a good friend is to move your heart to actually care selflessly for others.
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
Caring is noticing and taking the initiative (the first step) to get to know someone, invite them over for dinner or to hang-out, not putting it on them to connect with you, but you reach out.
2. Be Helpful
Being helpful is lending a hand to friend expecting nothing in return.
Proverbs 3:27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.
Being helpful is to be supportive, looking for ways to be beneficial and useful as we notice our friend’s needs.
Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Helpfulness is more than what we might see on those Honda car commercials; it’s a note of encouragement, offering to babysit, bringing over dinner, assist in a chore, being a listening ear, and also treating others better than we have been treated.
3. Be Encouraging
Encouragement is an art to find what really inspires, motivates, or lifts up another. To some they actually have a gift (like Barnabas in the Bible book of Acts) and naturally know how to bless another. The rest of us need to experiment and know we will have a few misses in the process…like the time I brought chocolate to someone as a little gift of encouragement and they hate chocolate (I know it’s hard to believe, but there really are anti-chocolate people out there, that’s ok, all the more for me…or us and to share with my friends!).
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Encouragement can come as a note, a little gift, time, chocolate (well for some), prayer, a spontaneous meeting, an anonymous act of kindness, a ‘just thinking of you’ email, post, tweet, text, call or even a drop by.
4. Be Honest
Be not only a person of your word, but do what you say, say what you do, as well to honest with your feelings and insights.
Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
The reason the tough, truthful, honest words of a friend can be trusted is because they are out of love. It’s tough these days when manipulation and fluffing people’s ego is more the norm. Yet we need those trusted words, used by God, from those who love us so we can grow, mature, improve, and be sharper.
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Honesty is letting your friend know they have bad breath, their actions hurt you, they are being a bit lazy, or they are not living right. Now remember honesty without overt, clearly felt love is nothing but noise (see 1 Corinthians 13).
5. Be Affirming
The unfortunate side effect of sarcastic, ribbing, and talking smack society is though it can be funny at times it does leave people wondering if the comment was meant to be just funny or was there a bit of truth in the sarcasm.
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Affirmations are recognitions of the efforts and character we see in others. They are kind words given in love.
Proverbs 25:11 A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
Affirmations are as precious as jewelry and just as valuable! So we should craft them well and share them often.
Oh I could go on. The Bible is packed full of great wisdom and insight on how to be good friends to others. Let’s keep at it and seek to be that good friend to others. What a difference we could make…this world needs some good friends, like you!
Seeking to be good friends along with you,