In the recent passing of my father-in-law, I am struck by the depths that a real friendship can have. As my father-in-law got older and was able to do less and less, it endeared me to him even more. I was happy to spend time with him, listening to many, many stories of happier times for him. Though I lived an hour away, my father-in-law allowed me to visit him often and he loved taking car rides, going out to eat and “visiting.”
He had a bout of throat cancer a couple of years ago — he was 92 at the time — and had to drive 30 miles for radiation treatment Monday through Friday for 8 weeks. There was a Village Inn down the road from the hospital, and every Wednesday I drove there to wait for him while he got radiated and then we would go to the VI for a slice of “free” pie. The VI always had free slices of pie on Wednesdays but he’d always say, “I’ll pay this time.”
Because of him, I understand what having a “good” friend means.
A good friend teaches you how to be patient, love unconditionally, and sacrifice yourself without complaint or worry for your own interests. And, over the course of the friendship, you begin see your own weaknesses that need refining and lean more into the friendship, rather than fleeing from the shame of your immaturity (impatience), your self-centeredness (thinking of the things you could be doing instead), and your pride (feeling like you’re more important in the friendship than the one you are serving).
Just as my father-in-law was a good friend to me, Jesus is a “good” friend too. Jesus has many of the same attributes in the way that He shows us the areas where we need to change and grow. That really is true love.
Proverbs 27 17-18 says “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. 18 Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.”
John 15:12-15 says “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
I thank God for teaching me through my father-in-law what it means “to be” and “to have” a good friend.