My friends and I have done some pretty crazy things in the past. And no, when I say crazy, I can guarantee it’s not what you’re imagining. I’m talking about writing, directing, and starring in a film we created in high school, while wearing full-blown costumes in downtown areas while we filmed this (now that I think about it, probably 80% of our “crazy” adventures in the past involved wearing some sort of costume).
Through the past 6-7 years, we’ve bonded over our nicknames for each other, our love for learning about different cultures, our small adventures we enjoy going on, our love for classic musicals and movies, and countless inside jokes.
But the one thing that has kept us closer than anything is our shared love for God. The amount of faith and trust these women have in God is remarkable. They’ve inspired and encouraged me to grow in my faith in so many different ways, and I’m thankful to God for the influence they have been in my life.
I often find myself thinking, how can I become a better friend? How do I become more selfless and God-honoring in my relationships with others? I can think of no better place to find this answer than in God’s Word. So today, I’m going to talk about David.
David has always been one of those characters I’ve had both the hardest and easiest time relating to in the Bible. There are times I’ve read his story and have felt discouraged because of his unwavering faith in God despite his circumstances, leaving me wondering why I don’t have that sort of faith and love for God.
Yet, I can relate in remembering that David was far from perfect, and that his mistakes show that he shouldn’t be placed on a pedestal of perfection when it comes to having a relationship with God. Regardless, I believe David had beautiful examples of friendship throughout his life. After studying David in the Bible, I’ve made some observations about what I believe God is teaching us regarding friendship.
A mutual love for God
Nothing can strengthen a friendship more than having it centered around pursuing God together. Jonathan and David were two men that strove to honor God in their actions and words, and that love for God affected how they interacted with each other. 2 Corinthians 6:14 speaks of the significance of this, saying “do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
Now, this passage is not saying that we should isolate ourselves from unbelievers. God has called us to be the salt and light of the world so that we can share His love with others (Matthew 13:13-16). The difference is that we should not reach a point where we are so invested in nonbelievers’ lives that they begin to influence our thinking and actions.
Imagine two oxen that are yoked together. If the oxen are equally matched in strength and they have both been trained in how to work properly with the yoke in place, they will be able to work together with no issues.
But imagine the same yoke being placed on a strong ox and a weak ox that is not accustomed to the yoke. Instead of unison, the weaker ox will eventually begin to affect the stronger ox — whether it’s leading the stronger ox off-task, or by falling down and bringing the stronger ox with him. Eventually, the weaker ox begins to influence the stronger ox in one way or another.
Similarly within Christianity, we must be sure that the people we pursue friendships with are striving to make God the ultimate priority of their life. Being equally yoked in friendships with Christians allows us to encourage one another. In the story of David and Jonathan, David was being pursued by Saul who wished to killed him. While David was in hiding, Jonathan kept in contact with him and eventually visited him. Jonathan used this time to remind David of God’s goodness and strength, and to continue to place his trust in God (1 Samuel 24:17).
Speaking well of each other
Nothing can tear a friendship apart faster than gossip or using harsh words in your conversation. “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends (Provers 16:28).” In the absence of David, Jonathan speaks highly of his friend to others (1 Samuel 19:4). Throughout their friendship, David and Jonathan use language that affirms and builds up the other’s character — not tear them down.
I love how Paul discusses the significance of this in his letter to the Christians in Ephesus: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice (Ephesians 4:29-31).”
I believe it can be easy to fall into the mindset of negativity, and allowing that negativity to affect our words. Even if we aren’t aware of it, gossip can easily slide into our conversations. That’s why it’s crucial for us to be sure that in any conversation we engage in, that we use our words to strengthen each other.
Look for Pursuing God together, Part 2 next week!