The Art of Friendship

By: Kristen L. McNulty

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In our instant, give it to me now society, I fear we're losing something rather significant. And that is the true definition and experience of friendship.

While today many of us define our friends by who we've got added on facebook, friendship used to be something a lot more genuine and much less watered down. Friends were more like family and friendships weren't something that was taken casually.

Instead the people you called your friends were the same people you knew you could call on in the middle of the night to watch your kids when you had to go to the hospital. They were the same people who would come alongside you in the deepest trenches of life and get dirty next to you. They were the same people who were in your lives for 10, 20, even 50 years.

Sadly things have changed. Many of us aren't even close to the same people we were five years ago and many of us have a very loose definition of friendship. That's a shame because as I've been learning more and more lately, friendship adds such joy to life.

C.S. Lewis captured the sentiment when he wrote "Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... it has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival."

Good, godly friendships have the potential to literally turn our lives upside down for the better. Why? Because good, godly friendship not only make the joys in our lives that much sweeter, but they make the burdens that much lighter. They encourage us and draw us closer to God, and they allow us to be an encouragement to others. They give us moments of laughter, a shoulder to cry on, and ears that listens when we need to talk.

I know that many of you are hearing this and you deep down want these kind of relationships, but have no idea where to start. Maybe you've been burned in the past and you don't want to risk your heart again. Or maybe you think that there's no one around you that you could have that type of friendship with. If that's you, let me encourage you- I've been there. But I've found that often times the best friendships come when you least expect them and the only way to be ready for them is to start practicing today what it means to be a good friend. You might do that and find that there is someone in your life who recpricates. Or maybe you'll just have the chance to bless someone who crosses your path for only a short season. Whatever happens, we should all be practicing the characteristics that make a good friend because those are the same characteristics that make a good disciple of Christ.

So what are these characteristics? Well good friends are loyal. They aren't selfish and instead look for ways to serve. They are good listeners and know when to speak and when to remain silent. They don't always demand their own way and instead are willing to lay down their desires for someone else. They are trustworthy and know what it means to be people of their word. They are, in short, people who look and act an awfully lot like Jesus.

So are you one of those people? While none of us will ever be perfect, I believe all of us can work towards being more and more like Christ to the people around us. And who knows, maybe one of those days we'll look around and notice that we've found a likeminded friend standing next to us in life, ready to journey with us for a reason, season, or lifetime.

Let this be our desire. Don't give me a five minute fad friendship that's fun and exciting, but over in a flash. Instead give me a 30 years in the making, solid friendship that grows only sweeter and stronger with the passing of time.

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This devotional was aired as a part of the Making A Difference Christian Radio Show.