Several years ago, I found myself stranded on the Third Mainland Bridge, a major traffic route in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. If you know Lagos, you will agree with me that it is the worst place your car could break down. Even in broad daylight, it’s a challenge. But here I was at 11.OOpm on this lonely and dangerous stretch of the bridge with a flat tyre. As if that was not bad enough, I reached for my car jack but it was nowhere to be found. I murmured some prayers under my breath, as the realization dawned on me that only a miracle would get me out of this.
I had been standing on this spot for about thirty minutes without any help when a car zoomed past. It stopped about a hundred meters away, and its reverse lights came on. My heart skipped a dozen beats! Were the occupants coming to lend a helping hand or was it going to be the climax of a nightmare? It took me just a few seconds to find out. My good college friend, whom I had not seen for decades, stepped out of the car in his full military regalia. After such a long separation, and even in the dark, he was able to recognize me. At great risk to his life, he stopped to help a friend. Who is a friend? What is friendship?
Solomon the wise king, talking about the same issue, said in Proverbs 17:17,”A friend loves at all times.”
An English publication once offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Among the thousands of definitions it received, a friend was said to be:
- One who multiplies joy and divides grief.
- One who understands our silence.
- A volume of sympathy bound in cloth.
- A watch which beats true for all time and never runs down.
But the definition that won the prize simply said: “A friend – the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.” One young man described a friend as someone who knows everything about you and still likes you.
We all need friends! They often provide the shock absorbers to cushion the effects of the many bumps of life. If we do not make conscious efforts to make new friends as we pass through life, we will soon find ourselves left alone. We often say and know to be true that one enemy is too many but a hundred friends are too few.
We find in scripture a friendship that stood the test of all time. David and Jonathan were both youths. Jonathan had had the privilege of tasting the pleasures of the palace, but David was just a shepherd boy whom divine providence had just ushered into the presence of the king. In spite of their different backgrounds, the two gangling youths struck a note of profound friendship. The Bible says, “…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”
The truth is, there is no greater possession than a good and faithful friend. A true friend will assist you readily, advise you justly, defend you courageously, take everything patiently and continue to be a friend. And that was precisely what Jonathan did for David. When his own father sought to kill him, Jonathan stood as a true friend and protected David’s interest without dishonouring his father. In a friend, because someone is looking for you as their friend:’ the question is: if you were another person would you like to be your own friend?
- Cultivate the habit of speaking to and smiling at people. There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting.
- Cultivate the habit of calling people by name. The sweetest music to anyone’s ear is the sound of his own name.
- Be cordial. Speak and act as if everything you do were a real pleasure.
- Be generous with praise and cautious with criticism.
- Be considerate of the feelings of others, it will be appreciated.
- Be thoughtful of the opinions of others
- Be alert to give service. What counts most in life is what we do for others!
Watch your company! One wrong association can destroy the good relationships you have built over time. “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33). The Bible also says in Psalms 1:1, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful…” As it has been said, “Friendship cemented together with sin does not hold.”
Remember, God intends that you grow and prosper in your relationships, so avoid ungodly relationships.