Are you a friend? What makes a good friend? Someone who runs errands for you when you're sick? Who sits you over a cup of coffee and listens? Someone you can cunt on to lend you some money when you're in a tight fix? Who takes your kids off your hands when you need a break? Someone who challenges you to be a better person, wife, mother, teacher and follower of God?
In each of these examples, we see friendship taking an active form. The Bible recorded many instances of friendship in action. Let me mention some of them.
First is in Job 2: 11-13. It Show us how Job's friends came to help him as he faced hardship. Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar dropped everything to go comfort their friend – even if it was just to sit silently beside him. They knew hat just their presence and willingness to listen would comfort him.
Second is in 1 Samuel 20:17. It proves to us how much Jonathan cared for David and that he is willing to sacrifice his own life to save the life of David. Jonathan loved David more than the throne which is rightfully his by virtue of his lineage.
Third is in Esther 4: 116-18. It demonstrates how Esther risked her life for the life of his uncle and the community he represents. She did not let her Uncle down at the most critical point of their lives.
Fourth is in Genesis 14:16. It conveys to us how Abraham rescues Lot from the enemies to the point of risking his own life.
Fifth is in Ruth 1: 16-18. It expresses how Ruth loved her aging mother-in-law and resolutely chose to leave her homeland just to be with her.
Sixth is in Acts 28:15. It gives us a glimpse into how just the sight of trusted friends can encourage us. Paul's friends heard he was coming so they traveled a great distance to greet him. For Paul this was a huge blessing. Sometimes just knowing someone is willing to make an effort on your behalf will put wind in your sails. Paul set the example to first thanked God for his friends. We need to remember, like he did, that friends are a gift from God.
Seventh is in Acts 12: 12-19. It tells us how Peter's friends could not be with him because he was imprisoned. But that did not stop them from doing what they could. They gathered together to pray. The King James Version of Acts 12: 5 says that they were literally praying "without ceasing." These friends knew that corporate prayer was an action that they could take on behalf of their friend who needed them.
Friendship crosses gender, culture, status, age and other forms of boundaries. And when we usually go to our friend's side or spiritually partner with them in prayer, we can look to these examples from the Bible as to how to be friends in action.
In a society that is more and more motivated to social media, texting, and emailing as a way to stay connected, we can not overlook what taking physical action in real time can mean. We can be active in faith, in love, in joy, in kindness. We choose to act because we understand that we are God's hands and feet to those He puts in our lives. He brings us to people who need His love and forgiveness. Yes, it takes extra effort, the second mile, time, and even money to be an active friend. But the blessings outweigh the effort as we live according to the examples God has given us. May our lives say a "Welcome" note to everyone we meet and we will find simple ways to open our heart to others especially those who are in dire need of friendship.
As teachers, mentors and educators we need to ask God to make us a friend who takes action. When God lays someone on our heart, we may feel a sense of urgency to move on their behalf. May we have the courage and determination to follow these Biblical examples and be a friend in action, not just in thought. Before asking God to give us this kind of people we would like to have as friends, it would be far better to be the kind of person other people would like to be a friend. It takes effort, determination and will-power but it will be worth it all especially when we see Jesus' smiling face-who is our Greatest Friend.
Jennifer A. Dale