True friends are hard to get by nowadays. In an age where relationships are as disposable as plastic, lasting and persevering relationships have become a rare commodity. But God's design for friendship has always been to be genuine, authentic and life-long.
If there's anything the universal church should reject, it's conditional and self-seeking relationships. Our God is a God of true friendships, and everything He did and does for us is to grow more in our relationship with one another. This should encourage us to seek to be a true friend and to seek true friends.
What does it take to become a true Christian friend- a friend who sticks closer than a brother? Here are five things a true Christian would do.
Set boundaries. Yes, we must do what we can to serve if we want to build strong friendships with others whether Christian or non-Christian, but a true Christian friend must also be a wise one. Setting boundaries not only protects you but also the people around you by setting a realistic expectation. Proverbs 25:17 says it this way: "Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor's house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you"
Respect. Respect means seeing a person's true worth. How do we see the value of a person? A person's value is determined first and foremost by the price Christ was willing to pay for that person's life. We all know that price was our Lord's death on a cross. Respect comes freely in friendships when we view friends the way God views them. Proverbs 11:12 says, "Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent"
Forgive. One thing is for sure- even true and genuine friends will fail us. That's because we're all broken and imperfect people. But in the midst of our imperfection, God calls us to forgive our brothers and sisters. Ephesians 4:32 says, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
Rebuke. Proverbs 27:5-6 says this: "Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." A true friend will have no problem speaking the truth in love. Rebuke does not come from a desire to belittle and ridicule but to make a person better. Only a true friend would want that for someone.
Support. Friends are not built just for the fun and good times. They are also meant to be there in times of hardship and trial. Do you want to be a true friend? Be someone who is there in bad times the same way you are in good. Proverbs 17:17 tells us, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."