Making friends these days can be as easy as clicking the “Add Friend” or “Confirm” button. Of course, most of your hundreds or thousands of contacts on Facebook are mere acquaintances or “friends of friends.”

We may be associated with so many people—both online and in the real world—but there are those we consider our true friends.

How do we recognize a true friend? How do we know if we’re a true friend to others?

One of the best examples of friendship in the Bible is the friendship between David and Jonathan. In their story, Jonathan has shown what it means to be a true friend.

A true friend celebrates your victories and comforts you in times of trouble.

Both David and Jonathan were valiant warriors. David was a young shepherd boy whose hands had been accustomed to protect his flock from wild beasts. Jonathan, on the other hand, had been trained for war as the son of a king and the rightful heir to the throne of his father, King Saul.

Yet when David grew in popularity and it became apparent that he will be the next king of Israel, Jonathan stood with him and supported him all the way.

. . . Jonathan was deeply impressed with David—an immediate bond was forged between them. He became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be David’s number-one advocate and friend.

1 Samuel 18:1 (MSG)

But more importantly, when David had encountered life-threatening ordeals in the hands of King Saul, Jonathan stood by David, wept with him, and helped him find strength in God.

And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.

1 Samuel 23:16 (NIV)

In times of difficulties, we don’t just need friends who will cheer us up, offer temporary solutions, or give us unwise counsel. We need friends who will lead us to and help us find strength in God.

When our friends face challenges in life, our role is to point them back to God and help them find strength for their situation. The best thing to do is to point them to God, the only one who can help them in any situation they face.

A true friend protects you and leads you away from harm.

As David rose in power and influence, King Saul knew that the days of his reign are numbered and that David will soon get the throne. Driven by jealousy toward David, King Saul plotted to hunt him down and kill him.

Jonathan learned of his father’s plans, so, defying his own father’s will, he went to David and exposed King Saul’s evil plot.

And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself. And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. And if I learn anything I will tell you.”

1 Samuel 19:2,3

Jonathan was deeply committed to protect David, and he stood in harm’s way, risking the anger of his own father, just to protect his friend.

How committed are you in protecting your friends?

Do you protect your friends from bad influences? Do you stand up for your friends when people talk behind their backs?

True friends protect one another. Toxic friends lead their friends to danger or let them stay in harm’s way.

A true friend brings out the best in you.

And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” And the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.

1 Samuel 23:17,18

This was the last time they saw each other. In their final moment together, Jonathan assured David of his destiny to become king.

All throughout Jonathan’s life, he was helping David fulfill his destiny—from the first time they met, until the last time they saw each other. Jonathan played a big role in David’s life as he fulfilled his destiny to become king.

Do you have friends who always remind you of your purpose in life? Are you the kind of friend who helps your friends fulfill their God-given destiny?

Do you inspire and challenge your friends to be diligent in their studies? Are you helping your friends guard their life?

Do you encourage your friends and speak life to them? Or do your words discourage and put them down?

At the end of their story, Jonathan was killed in battle, along with his father and his brothers. When David learned about this, he wept bitterly and wrote a lament for him:

“Jonathan lies slain on your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; 

very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, 

surpassing the love of women.”

2 Samuel 1:25,26

All throughout his life, Jonathan showed David what a solid and real friendship looks like.

Solid friends lay down their lives for one another in order to fulfill their God-given purpose and destiny in life.

This is the kind of love that Jesus taught and showed us when He laid down His life for us.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13

Sacrificial love is the foundation of authentic friendships.

Are you the kind of friend who loves others unselfishly?

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