“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:
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)