The Sweetness of a Friend

We all know the saying, "A friend in need is a friend indeed." But what does it mean to be a friend?

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. Proverbs 27:9

In this verse, a friend's honest and heartfelt counsel is compared to oil and perfume. The sweetness of a friend is said to come because of the counsel they give. Oil and perfume were valuable commodities in the Old Testament, and they were used ceremoniously to sanctify, cleanse, and heal.

In other words, a true friend is not afraid to speak the truth about love. A true friend will tell you what you need to hear, even if it's not what you want. And a true friend is someone whose counsel is invaluable. So how can we be that kind of friend to others?

How to Be a True Friend

1. Pray for your friends. Ask God to give you wisdom as you navigate your friendships. Pray that He would help you to see your friends the way that He sees them and that He would give you opportunities to encourage them and build them up.

2. Listen more than you talk. It's so easy to offer our opinion on everything, but sometimes our friends just need us to listen. Sometimes they need us to be quiet so they can vent or process out loud without feeling like they're being judged or evaluated. So the next time your friend comes to you with a problem, try listening more than you talk.

3. Ask questions. Asking questions shows that we are interested in hearing more about our friends' thoughts and feelings. It shows that we care about their experiences and perspectives. And it gives us an opportunity to get to know them better.

4. Speak the truth in love— always. This can be hard, but it's so important. We all need people who call us out when we're veering off track. We all need people who will lovingly challenge us to grow closer to God and become more like Christ. So don't be afraid to speak the truth in love, even when it's tough.

5. Encourage often. One of the best things we can do for our friends is to build them up with our words. We should look for ways to encourage them, whether telling them what we admire about them or sharing something God has been teaching us that might encourage them too. When we take the time to encourage our friends, we give them a priceless gift.

True friendship is such a blessing from God. He created us for community, and He uses our friendships to help us grow and mature into the people He created us to be. If you have good friends, cherish them, pray for them, and take care of those relationships. And if you're looking for ways to be a better friend, start with these five suggestions. Prayer, listening, asking questions, speaking the truth in love, and encouraging will go a long way in helping you build strong friendships that will last a lifetime.