It is difficult to limit the qualities of friendship because each one has its own dynamics.  A true BFF (best friend forever) grows instead of fades when time and distance could end the relationship.  I am very fortunate to have lifelong friends—My wife, my blood brothers, my children, my relatives and my spiritual brethren to name just a few.

Some of the qualities that comprise friendship are:  LOYALTY (he/she won’t drop you for richer, more attractive or influential people), AVAILABILITY (there when you need them even if they’re busy), ENDURING (long lasting in spite of circumstances), PATIENT (longsuffering towards your failures and quirks), GENEROUS (shares time and material things), CONFIDENTIAL (keeps secrets, won’t gossip), UNDERSTANDING (cares about your physical and emotional hurts), PROTECTIVE (will defend and stand up for you), ADVISER (suggests options, slow to criticize and quick to empathize).

The best kind of friend is one you choose and one who chooses you.  One with whom you share a mutual interest, job, skill or joy.  All of the qualities listed here make for a close not a casual friend.

It should not be surprising that most of these qualities are found in some deep Biblical friendships. Abraham is called a friend of God (Js 2:23) because he believed and obeyed Him.  Jonathan, the heir to the throne of King Saul, became a close friend of David and they shared a mutual friendship that encompassed most of the above qualities (1 Sam 18: 1-4; 19: 1-5; 23: 16-18). Jonathan protected David from the wrath of his father and was even willing to let David be king and be second himself.

Jesus’ apostles became his friends instead of his servants because of their obedience to his commands (Jo 15:14).  Jesus laid down his life for his friends, his enemies and us (Jo 15:13).  A true friend loves at all times (Pr 17:17), not just when it’s convenient. We can be like Abraham and become God’s friend or we can choose to be a friend of the world and an enemy of God. (Jas 4:4)

Here’s hoping that you have many friends, but if not, remember—To have friends, be a friend.  Nevertheless, you can always have 3 friends, The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.

–Jim Bailey