And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself. 4 Jonathan sealed the pact by taking off his robe and giving it to David, together with his tunic, sword, bow, and belt. – 1 Samuel 18:3-4 NLT
Six years ago, a good friend of mine died of cancer. No matter how many people I lose to this terrible disease, it never gets easier.
When my friend died, I remember how social media was flooded with posts that people left about them. Individuals from all walks of life, who had been connected to my friend in some way, shared how my friend’s life had impacted theirs. One of the common themes that kept coming up was how great a friend my friend had been to them during the ups and downs of their lives.
As I looked at all the posts that began to build online for my friend as a kind of online memorial over the coming days and weeks, I was inspired to become the kind of friend to others that they had been to me.
Many of us want to be known as a friend worth having, but most of us do not have good role models of what it means to live that out in our everyday lives.
One of the best examples in the Bible of what it means to be a real friend is Jonathan. His commitment to David is, to me, the standard of how to be a real friend. As we look at Jonathan’s life, here are four takeaways from his friendship with David that can help us be a real friend to others.
1. (R)each out in love. In 1 Samuel 18:3-4, Jonathan gives David his robe, sword, tunic, etc. as symbols of his commitment to be his friend. He didn’t wait for David to go up to him; he took the initiative to establish a foundation for their relationship. As the old saying goes, “In order to have friends, you must first be one.” That won’t happen if we wait for others to come to us.
2. (E)ncourage them with practical help. In 1 Samuel 20, Jonathan put himself in harm’s way to help David flee from King Saul (Jonathan’s dad) before Saul could kill him. Jonathan was willing to do whatever it took to give David the help he needed. Being a real friend means offering to help with practical needs through our actions; not just our words (James 2:15-16).
3. (A)ctually show up during hard times. When David was on the run, Jonathan met him in the wilderness to offer encouragement (1 Samuel 23:15-18). Good friends show up for their friends even when others have given up on them.
4. (L)ift them up spiritually. 1 Samuel 23:16 says, “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.” Real friends point people back to Jesus and the hope they can have in Him. That does not mean you have a Bible verse for every problem; it means hurting alongside your friend and walking beside them in their life and spiritual journey.
Making friends like David means becoming a friend like Jonathan. It takes hard work and commitment, but when we strive to serve the people in our lives over being served by them, we will find ourselves with the kind of friendships we always hoped we could have.
Pause & Reflect
1. Who is someone who has been a great friend to you? What is it about them that made them a good friend?
2. Who is one person in your life you want to be a better friend to? Which of the steps to being a real friend will you put into practice with them this week?
10 Verses About Being a Real Friend
1. There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24 NLT
2. As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. – Proverbs 27:17 NLT
3. Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT
4. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT
5. The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. – Proverbs 27:9 NLT
6. Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. – Proverbs 17:9 NLT
7. Never abandon a friend—either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away. – Proverbs 27:10 NLT
8. Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. – Proverbs 27:6 NLT
9. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8 NLT
10. When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. – Romans 1:12 NLT