The Gift and Purpose of Friendship

I am content with the Portion of friendship God gave me…Jesus Christ!

A friend LOVES at all times…” (Proverbs 17:17)

Got friends? Even a better question: are you a friend to others? I must confess I have struggled with understanding the true meaning and purpose of friendship for a long time.  I struggled with the feeling that I was a bad friend.  Even worse than that, I struggled with jealousy and envy when I saw cliques or two close friends and it didn’t get better when I went on Facebook and I would see conversations or events I wasn’t invited to (I know pretty petty).  I wanted a close friendship so badly I would try to make people my friends, and when they didn’t respond in kind I was offended. I made friendship about me.  About my needs and wants and now I see I was wrong. This new revelation was given to me by God’s truth, cleansing me from a green spot in my heart and I feel free—I must sow what I know!

In 1 Samuel 18 there is a beautiful true story teaching us God’s gift and purpose of friendship through David and Jonathan.  David was a shepherd boy that had just killed Goliath with the strength of God.  King Saul was impressed by this young man and ‘did not let him return to his father’s house.’  Jonathan was the King’s son and according to tradition, would be the next heir to the throne but that was not God’s plan.  We see their first encounter in verse 1:

“Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself.”

As I read this, I tell God, ‘Now that’s the kind of friendship I want.’  Then my eyes are opened:

Who knit the souls of David and Jonathan? God.

Where did this love for David come from? God.

What is the second commandment? “Love your neighbor as yourself”

I smile and my heart races! God is the creator of all things and has purpose in all things, and desires for me to have deep friendships too, and He helps me by giving me a command to love my neighbor as myself—just as Jonathan loved David as himself.

Then I see ‘my’ part, in the friendship: After God knitted their souls and gave Jonathan love for David, it was from this love that prompted Jonathan to “make a covenant’ with David:

“Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.  Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor including his sword and his bow and his belt.” (1 Samuel 18:3-4)

Aside for how personal these items were to Jonathan, I also see the symbolism of these items he freely gave:

  • Robe that was ‘on him’: His right to the throne (Here, take what I have, even my position)
  • Armor: He let down his defenses and was vulnerable, open, transparent (I choose to trust you with my heart and feelings)
  • Sword and bow, belt: He gives up weapons (I will not harm you)

When I read this true story, the Words of Jesus whisper into my heart:

Greater love has no one than this, man lay down his life for his friends…”

But how? How do I ‘lay down my life?’ Where does this sacrificial love come from?  Again, I am reminded: this love comes FROM God, the fruit of His Spirit.  The Spirit must come before the fruit for it to be genuine fruit, otherwise it will be artificial and I don’t want artificial fruit or friendship.  I ‘see’ the fellowship I have as a Christian is a gift from God for God.  God knitted the soul of Jonathan and David for His kingdom purposes. The knitting of my soul to another is for God’s kingdom and for His Namesake, it’s not about my needs and desires, it’s about serving His purposes!

  • As an individual I was created to glorify God
  • My marriage with my husband is to glorify God
  • My role as a Mother is to glorify God
  • Friendship with others is to glorify God

All for God by God! I feel the chains of jealousy and envy toward cliques and ‘best friends’ fall off me as I realize God ordained and allows those close friendships. Yes, I realize there are still mean people that are exclusive to others, but their behavior has no affect on my relationship and purpose with the Lord. In fact, I am called to love them no matter what!

Now instead of trying to add to my ‘friends list’ I’m going to surrender and allow the Lord to love through me and show me the friends He chooses at His appointed time.  He is the one who knits souls together, I should not force it.  I chose not to be envious of the relationships of others but to be content and present and obedient on what He has put before me…always remembering my neighbor is the person next to me.  Now, I am ready to teach my children about the gift and purpose of friendship!

What about you? Is your heart knit to the soul of someone? Do you love them as yourself?  Before we can have fellowship with others we must first start with God. He is the One that equips us to be a friend.

If you feel like you don’t have a friend I want you to know you can have at least One.  You can be a friend of God. He has made and fulfilled a covenant by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for your sins so you can have fellowship with God.

Jesus laid down His life for me, and He did it for you.  He covers you with His Robe of righteousness allowing you to have access to God the Father!! He has given you His armor to stand firm against the schemes of the devil helping you to remain faithful. Jesus said, “you are My friend if you do what I command.”   Jesus strengthens me to be the friend I cannot be on my own through the power of His Holy Spirit.  I’m praying for you dear reader…

“…that [your] heart may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2-3)

About altarofheaven

My name is arcelia. I love, worship and revere God. I am enJOYing the peace with God I have through Jesus Christ and I'm learning to listen and respond to His voice through His Word and convictions of the Holy Spirit in this midst of this chaotic and distracting world. I am a broken redeemed healed vessel, joyously drawing water from the Spring of salvation pouring out in God's strength by His Spirit for His glory. "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." 2 Corinthians 13:14 View all posts by altarofheaven

35 responses to “The Gift and Purpose of Friendship

  • Emily

    Your posts are superb!
    I went through a time of wilderness, well I am still going through it but now I am not grumbling and complaining but praising…anyway we were moved states away from our family and fellowship. I craved fellowship with like minded believers badly but in time HE revealed HIS plan to draw me closer to HIM in order to develop our relationship first. The rest does just that, rests in HIM. 😀 And isn’t so sweet how everything then falls into place so seamless and gently? Oh how I love HIS ways!
    I look forward to the day we meet. 😀

    • altarofheaven

      Emily you understand! That’s what happened here…we moved here two years ago and I craved fellowship too and I was not resting and abiding but striving and trying too hard, and probably scaring people away 😉 That’s the Truth–to develop our relationship with Him first. I usually learn the hard way because I’m stubborn…I look forward to meeting you too when the Lord permits!

  • michelle jones

    Arcy…I love you girl!! I truly believe that I am blessed to call you my friend. “as iron sharpened iron….” I am a better wife, mom, friend because if the many wonderful and godly women the Lord had placed in my life.Thank you for sharing your heart and love for our Lord and His Word.

    • altarofheaven

      I love you too Michelle!! I feel so blessed to have a godly encouraging friend like you 😉 I’ve been impressed with how kind and loving you and your entire family are to everyone sharing the love of Christ with all!

  • velma

    This came in time for me, yestherday I was feeling like there was no one for me. I was have a pitty party thats what I call them. And I came to work long face and feeling sorry for myself, I open your page and my face is glowing now and I feel the love of God flowing in my veins right now. Ready to see my patients with a smile. Praying that they see the love of God in my eyes. (get it Babe)lol. Thank you God for you know how to reach me. Thank you RC.

    • altarofheaven

      I do ‘get it’ 😉 lol. I’m so glad this encouraged you, I know about those pity parties, I’m keeping this as a stone of remembrance the next time I ‘go there.’ I love you! Keep shining Mommy!

  • canadianmommytime

    I’m there! I flash smiles all over the place and nobody bites. I appreciate you inspiring me to look elsewhere. I enjoyed this post so much. Thank you.
    You are a wonderul writer, your posts are always spot on. Hmmm… Perfection. Looks like you’re going to the right place for your guidance.
    Thank you for all you do. Keep on keeping us inspired and focused on what is most important.

  • Muthering Heights

    These are very good thoughts on friendship!

  • Jill

    Thanks, arcelia. I have so much swimming in my head that I don’t know what to say, but I wanted to leave you a note that I read your post and I love and appreciate you. I am so blessed to call you my friend, thanks to God bringing our paths together.

    • altarofheaven

      Sweet precious Jill…thank you for reading, and thank you for being my friend–for not giving up on me as I dealt with my insecurities 🙂 I feel blessed the Lord is knitting the hearts of our families. I love to hear my children pray for your children each morning–it warms my heart.

  • jesusknowsmyname

    You have such great insight on this subject and this is something that I may have to deal with in the near future. We have put our house up for sale and when it sells, I will be leaving friends I have known for 17 years. I will miss them. Where I am moving, I do have family, and I know a few people, but I will have to make new friends. I can’t say I’m really worried about that, as I plan on getting involved with some things that I am familiar with (I have visited the town many times since I was a child and I did live there for 2 years). Still, I can already feel the sadness of loss of the friends I will leave behind. I know friendship cannot be rushed or forced, it will come about. I will trust God to bring some good friends into my life. Thank you for writing on this subject!

  • illumylife by Joy

    Beautiful wisdom and words. Isn’t it amazing the way that God knits together in friendship Christian women! Already I feel close to so many lovely women that I may never meet in person yet in reading their inspirational words, I feel blessed and close to them. You are one of these and I thank you.

  • New View From Here

    Really love this part of the post:

    “But how? How do I ‘lay down my life?’ Where does this sacrificial love come from? Again, I am reminded: this love comes FROM God, the fruit of His Spirit. The Spirit must come before the fruit for it to be genuine fruit, otherwise it will be artificial and I don’t want artificial fruit or friendship.”

    • altarofheaven

      Isn’t that the Truth!! Time and time again God reminds me He works in and through me for His good purpose. When I surrender, it’s great, when I don’t–it’s ugly. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Anne Sikes

    What a blessing you are!

  • chrisd

    I felt this way too for too many years. But I finally gave up trying to fit in with people that I honestly will never fit in with. I can like them but I don’t want to hang out with them. I decided that I was going to be a loner and that was that. But God had another plan for me.

    I now have all different kinds of friends, old, young, black, white, hispanic, Irish, and none of them the same. I cherish them so much because I never thought that I would have them.

    • altarofheaven

      I’m so glad you knew God had another plan for you as written in Hebrews 10:25 “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Remain in Him!

  • Friends To Treasure | canadian mommy time

    […] on borrowed computer, I want to share with you, my recent blessings.  I recall reading Altar of Heaven blog, sharing her desire for friends and how seeking God first will allow for friendships to […]

  • Crystal Allison

    Please pray for me. Over the weekend I was feeling pretty down about the lack of friendships in my life, I spent all day Saturday praying to God practically begging Him to tell me what was “wrong with me” and “why nobody wanted to be friends with me” despite my many attempts to create friendships. THEN…..He answered, in the form of someone posting this blog entry on their facebook. After having read it, I am in what feels like world war three inside. I’m finding it hard to reconcile myself to the idea that I have to get closer to God (than I already am) just to have a few good friends come into my life. I’ve been so lonely for nearly all of my life… much longer must I be in this desert without rain!?!?! I don’t doubt what you are saying is true, it’s just hard to swallow when I was hoping after all this time the answer would be something I had some kind of control over. So I ask you again to please pray for me as I go through this journey.

  • altarofheaven

    Crystal, I am praying right now and I understand what you are saying. In fact to me it seems the closer I walk with God and the deeper relationship I have with Him the harder it is to not feel lonely, especially if He is calling you out of certain ‘circle of influences’ and asking you to do things He’s not asking others to do. I am praying for you and I’m sending you an email with my information if you want to talk more about this. Thank you for your transparency and willingness to share what’s on your heart.
    Psalm 3:5-6; Psalm 37:3-6

  • A Stone Of Remembrance Never Collected…Until Now « Altar of Heaven

    […] Stop trying to please others and force friendships. Don’t you feel like you’re trying too hard? It only makes you feel rejected and lost when they don’t respond to your friendly smile or notes.  God wants you to have friendships too—one day you will learn ‘The Gift and Purpose of Friendship’! […]

  • A Friend Loves At All Times « Altar of Heaven

    […] me to see just how much love has been poured out in my friends’ heart. I’m thankful for this gift of friendship and for the love my friend has for Jesus Christ…and for me. Thank you my ‘pink friend who […]

  • Kgaugelo

    I was practically in tears just an hour ago then i decided to go online to see if someone out there goes through what i am going through now. I have a friend who i have been close to for more than 8 years. We got saved together. When we were of the world we were so inseparable but now that we are both living for God there seems to be a huge wall around us. I love her so much just like Jonathan loved David. Problem is she has found new friends and neglected me (i do feel jealous because the things she does with them she will never do with me). She does almost everything together with them. She rather talk to them than talk to me. She does say she loves me but i don’t feel the love at all. when she expresses her love is when we have an argument or she buys me gifts. I have cut off many friends in my life, not that i was close with them. I have never had a lot of friends, when i attempt it usually fails and they are left friends with my friend whom i love so dearly. I cried to God about this. I asked him to give me new friends who will love, cherish, go guga about me as i will also treat them that way. It hasn’t happened. I have a close relationship with God but i don’t understand why he doesn’t bring people who will love me the way i deserve to be loved. I know God loves me that i am 100% sure of. I feel so alone without having someone to share the word with, revelations, mysteries of the word. I am always on my own even at work i just don’t fit in with anyone. I pray earnestly for God to bring new people in my life but all i have is Him, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It breaks my heart because i know i am a good person with strong Christian values. Please tell me it gets better if i just accept and get used to it.

    • altarofheaven

      I am so thankful this post has shown you’re feelings are understood. I’m out of town now with limited access to internet and I will email you a longer response. In the meantime I will say, yes…it does get better. What gets better is not getting the ‘soul mate’ friends we desire {remember even David lost Jonathan when he was slain}.

      I’m finding what gets better is thankfulness for the Friend I have in Jesus Christ, my LORD and Savior! I am finding it gets better because I see God’s grace is sufficient. He will always give us the grace we need to get through whatever it is…even loneliness. Jesus Christ understood what it’s like to be lonely–even in His darkest trial His disciples left Him. However, Jesus was never alone, He had the fellowship of God the Father and that is the same fellowship He offers us by His sacrifice for our sins. I know you know this…I do too, but that’s where I go to renew my mind when I forget and begin to feel lonely again.

      God asks, ‘Am I not enough?’ After confessing and crying and sharing with Him my heart He shows me He is enough and helps me place my eyes back on Him. He is enough and He has a purpose in all things, even the people He puts us with and it’s all for His glory. I’ve come to the place to say unless God gives it to me, I don’t want it. This helps me to keep my eyes on Him seeking first His kingdom and righteousness….my sister I will pray for you and I am thankful God is being glorified in this place.

      Matthew 6:33

      • Kgaugelo

        i am grateful for all you have said. I apologize for taking time to reply. I think you are really spot on when you say God should be enough for me and if he does not give me anything then it means i do not need it. I realized i need to first establish a strong relationship with him and carry on from there and he will lead my path. I also like the example you made about Jesus, he had a fellowship with God even when he was in a rock hard place. God was always with him. David says the Lord is my Shepard. Indeed He is our Shepard and we shouldn’t want because he will provide what we need. Thank you so much for taking your time to reply. May God continue giving you light in this topic.

      • altarofheaven

        🙂 praising God with you!

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