Covid-19 Devotionals

What Does a Biblical Friendship Look Like?

On Thursday 30 July 2020, the world celebrates the International Day of Friendship.

The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. …

Our world faces many challenges, crises and forces of division–such as poverty, violence, and human rights abuses–among many others–that undermine peace, security, development and social harmony among the world’s peoples.

To confront those crises and challenges, their root causes must be addressed by promoting and defending a shared spirit of human solidarity that takes many forms–the simplest of which is friendship.

Through friendship–by accumulating bonds of camaraderie and developing strong ties of trust–we can contribute to the fundamental shifts that are urgently needed to achieve lasting stability, weave a safety net that will protect us all, and generate passion for a better world where all are united for the greater good. …

The International Day of Friendship is an initiative that follows on the proposal made by UNESCO defining the Culture of Peace as a set of values, attitudes and behaviours that reject violence and endeavour to prevent conflicts by addressing their root causes with a view to solving problems. The idea for this year is to celebrate your friends.

(This quote is adapted from the United Nations’ website). They say that, though it’s a strange time to celebrate because of Covid-19, it’s still a great time to show your friends you love them.

I am certain you will agree that the idea is brilliant … be it inter-country or inter-ethnicity or being friendly towards people you see at work, in the shops, the neighbours … even calls or emails or WhatsApp messages to those you are good friends with. When you drive through the city or a busy part of the suburb and stop at a traffic light or stop street, look at the faces of people. The majority of people look “miserable” … depressed, worried, fearful or angry. Walk in a shopping mall and try to count the amount of faces that have smiles on them. Pay for your goods and check to see the attitude of the cashier. Yes, we use masks and it’s difficult to see the faces, but posture, walk and general behaviour speak loudly. Make an effort to look at the people around you, and you’ll agree that they are look miserable. Sadly, this tends to be true amongst many Christians. Is it possible to think backwards to before lockdown? How many people in the church did you see that were genuinely happy to be in church and with life and expressed this to others?

As you are aware, David and Jonathan were very good friends. Let me remind you of the level of their friendship

1Sa 20:1 Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to take my life?”

King Saul, Jonathan’s father, was jealous of David and wanted to kill him. Jonathan could not see how David could say this.

1Sa 20:2 “Never!” Jonathan replied. “You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without confiding in me. Why would he hide this from me? It’s not so!”

3 But David took an oath and said, “Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.’ Yet as surely as the LORD lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.”

After David explained the situation further, Jonathan understood and accepted what was happening.

1Sa 20:4 Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.”

Here is the royal prince Jonathan enjoying a real friendship bond with a captain of the military while being despised by his father the king. Read through the whole chapter (1 Samuel 20) and find out for yourself the plan they put together to see whether king Saul wanted to kill David. Long story short, the two found that he did! The chapter closes with a sad farewell:

1Sa 20:42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.'” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.

Once you have read the passage for context you will see the type of friendship they enjoyed. It was filled with both knowing and loving God that they could love each other and serve each other for the glory of God.

There are three types of friendships. The first one is the David and Jonathan type … which could also be referred to as “the Paul and Timothy type” or as “the Paul and Aquila and his wife Priscilla” type. These were far more intense in that they could share the most intimate thoughts, worries, concerns and joys with each other. These relationships are exceedingly precious and needed. The category of this friendship would be the ‘prayer buddy’ type.

Second, there are the friends you get on well with. You can talk about most things. You are there for each other and will walk the extra mile with them anywhere and anytime. This type of friendship would be the Christian brother/sister relationship … committed to each other because you are committed to Jesus!

The last kind of friendship would be general friends … people you know and greet and talk to. They might be neighbours, colleagues, fellow students or sporting mates … they might even be people you don’t know well at all.

Now, irrespective which category the friends fall into, there are two things you can do for them to express friendship. The first is that you may celebrate friends by praying for them. The second is that you may love friends by sharing the Word of God, given by the Holy Spirit, with them. These two ways of celebrating friends, prayer and Gospel sharing, express true love.

Dear God, help me to be a friend like David and Jonathan for Christ’s sake, since Christ lives in me. Amen.

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