A True Friend

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The Bible gives examples of good and bad friends, and we can learn from both.
By Mark Moring

A good friend looks a lot like …
… Ruth, who was loyal even when times got tough. When her mother-in-law, Naomi, lost her husband and both sons (one of them was Ruth's husband), Naomi decided to move far away to deal with her grief. She told Ruth to stay behind, but Ruth said no way: "Don't urge me to leave you … Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay." (See Ruth 1:1-22)

A bad friend looks a lot like …
… Pharaoh's cupbearer, who didn't have a clue about showing appreciation. While in prison with Joseph, the two became friends. Joseph promised the cupbearer that he would soon be freed from prison and given a new chance at life—great news indeed! But when the cupbearer got out of jail, he "did not remember Joseph; he forgot him." (See Genesis 40:1-23)

A good friend looks a lot like …
… Jonathan, who would do anything, even risk his life, for a friend. Jonathan's dad, King Saul, was jealous of David, Jonathan's best bud. When Jonathan heard his dad wanted to kill David, he hatched a plan to save his friend's life. Jonathan modeled the ultimate friendship when he told David, "Whatever you want me to do, I'll do it for you." (See 1 Samuel 20:1-42)

A bad friend looks a lot like …
… Ahithophel, who betrayed King David by befriending an enemy who wanted to overthrow the kingdom. Ahithophel was supposedly David's trusted counselor, but he gave lousy advice and spread vicious rumors about the king. He was the kind of "friend" David likely had in mind when he wrote Psalm 35:12-15: "They repay me evil for good. … Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting … I went about mourning as though for my friend. … But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee." (See 2 Samuel 15:12-17:23)

A good friend looks a lot like …
… Paul, who was great at helping friends grow in their faith—not only by encouraging them, but also by being bold enough to tell them when they'd messed up. One side of Paul would say (as he did to his friend Philemon): "Grace to you and peace … Your love has given me great joy and encouragement" (v. 3-7). Another side of Paul told friends when to shape up, but always with grace: "I always thank God for you … I am not writing this to shame you. … It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you. … Flee from sexual immorality … Honor God with your body." (See 1 Corinthians 4:14-6:20)

A bad friend looks a lot like …
… Judas, who often acted like a friend, but put his own self-interests above everything else. He followed Jesus everywhere, yet was often guilty of faking it. Even when Jesus said Judas would betray him, Judas essentially replied, "No way! Not me!" He continued his charade to the moment of betrayal, by giving Jesus a kiss on the cheek, to which Jesus said, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" (See Matthew 26:15-17, 25; Luke 22:47-48)

A good friend looks a lot like …
… Jesus, who was the ultimate friend to everyone. He was compassionate, encouraging, patient, loyal, understanding, loving. The best way to be a good friend is to be like Christ, to "clothe" ourselves with the things of God, as it says in Colossians 3:12-17. That's the ultimate definition of what a good friend looks like.

Fun (and Cheap) Ways to Build Friendships

Here are a few ideas to help your friendships grow!

1. People watch at the airport.

2. Use a sunny afternoon to wash your cars. (If you don't have a car, wash your parents' cars!)

3. Challenge each other to a taste test with various colas (regular and diet Coke, regular and diet Pepsi, generic brands, etc.) The one who guesses the most correctly wins, and whoever burps the loudest gets "special recognition"!

4. Collect all the pictures you have of one another and make a scrapbook.

5. Build something—like a model airplane. Or if you're ambitious, a treehouse for the neighborhood kids.

6. Go apple picking. Or blueberry, or strawberry, or raspberry …

7. Go for a bike ride. When you find a cool spot, in a park or by a lake, stop and have a picnic.

8. Play "Name That Tune." Using a CD player with a time display, see who can name well-known songs the fastest.

9. Spend an evening watching for falling stars.

10. Play a game of basketball—dribble and shoot with the opposite hand you write with.

11. Borrow a video camera and spend the day making your own movie.

12. Cloud watch. The first to find the elephant in the sky wins.

13. Go to a thrift store, buy the goofiest, oldest (and cheapest) clothes you can find and then wear them to your favorite fast-food restaurant.

14. Build a kite from scratch, using stuff you have around the house. If it doesn't fly, at least you'll get a good laugh!

15. Write a short story together, starting with this: "It was a dark and stormy night when sweet Old Maude, innocently crocheting her granddaughter's new sweater, was … " Take turns writing one sentence apiece until the story is finished.

16. Make root beer floats. See who gets the ice-cream headache first.

17. Take turns finishing this sentence: "If I had a million dollars, I would … "

18. Skip rocks on the lake, ocean, swamp, mud puddle—whatever is closest to home.

19. Tell your friends how much you care about them, and tell them often. Tell them they've helped shape who you are today. Then thank God for blessing you with one of his greatest gifts—friendship.

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