My wife has mentioned many times throughout the last year of my recovery that she likes that I have friends. Yeah, me too. Only she meant real friends. Not acquaintances. Not people I say hello to, how is it going, what’s up (sup for you millennials), or how’s work? No, she means David and Jonathan type of friends. Funny how God keeps improving my constant contact with Him. See, I was in Bible study not long ago and the lesson was on, yep you guessed it, friendship. What real friendship means. Not what I thought it was or meant.
So as many of you know, Bible studies are required to have five main points. Or that is how it seems to me. Sermons have three main points, Bible studies have five main points. I think that is a law. Somewhere in Malachi or Amos I think. Anyway, this Bible study had five main points. Stay with me, they were good ones.
The entire focus of this Bible study was about the friendship between David and Jonathan. Yep, that David. The adulterer, murderer, man after God’s own heart. And Jonathan, basically the rightful heir to the throne who was being usurped by David and who loved him more than he loved the idea of being a king. 1 Samuel 23 outlines their friendship, again focusing on five main points of how Jonathan and David demonstrated friendship. Basically, you demonstrate your friendship through:
- Presence – a Biblical friend shows up, even when it isn’t convenient
- Prayers – you pray for your friends; not that lip service stuff, real prayer where you lift up your friend and their needs to your Father
- Protection – you step up for your friends, even if it involves sacrifice or risk to you; especially when they can’t protect themselves
- Personal loyalty – friends mess up, sometimes badly; Biblical friends have “fierce allegiance” especially when they stumble
- Promise – friends seal friendship with loyalty, with a promise to be a friend; that means always
After I entered recovery, let me be clear – after I was found out to have lied to everyone around me, I had to tell a friend that I had kept a whole part of myself from him. This was someone I had spent almost every Saturday morning with on long runs for the past 6 years. I had to tell him that I hadn’t been completely open with him, that I had kept things from him, that I had purposefully lied to him to make myself look better and to protect myself and my sin from being found out. So really all those five points above, I had kept none of them.
I didn’t know how he would react. I feared he would not want to be my friend. Ok, I knew that he wouldn’t just walk away. I knew he was too much of a Biblical friend to do that. I expected that he would agree to be my accountability partner and he would help me to stay accountable and transparent and honest. I expected him to be my friend. I didn’t expect that he would let me be his friend as well. See, he didn’t cut himself off from me. He didn’t keep things from me or not trust me with his struggles or issues or stumbles. He let me practice and learn to be a Biblical friend to him. That gift has been huge.