In an article entitled, "Enjoying the Enduring Magic of Long-Term Friendship," Katherine Lowry lists several important ingredients found in friendships that are able to last for many years.
1. Going through hard times together
The people she surveyed had been through depressions, wars, illnesses, death of spouses and parents together. Hard times are the cement where true friendships are solidified.
Paul touches on some of the experiences that create friendship:
10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
- Romans 12:10-15
Notice verse 10, devotion and praise offered to each other and verse 15, sharing the good and bad times. He also says:
Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
- Galatians 6:2
So we see that friendship finds its feet in swirling waters, and long-term friendships are forged in tribulation.
A second ingredient in this friendship stew:
2. Sharing food and hospitality together
Again, Paul says:
contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
- Romans 12:13
Ms. Lowry also found that friendships are not created in a vacuum. People who had maintained long-term friendships worked at being together often around the dinner table in each other's homes. The sharing of food together often is a major ingredient in creating a lifetime bond of friendship. It is difficult to create friendship without this practice and note that when we disfellowship someone, it is the first thing that we do to sever ties. I Corinthians 5:11 says, "…not even to eat with such a one."
A third important ingredient is:
3. Forgiving each other
Paul teaches the following:
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
- Ephesians 4:32
No matter how great the relationship begins, there will always be a moment when you will fail your friend or your friend will disappoint or offend you. What destroys the friendship at this point is not the offense or the failure, but rather the inability or unwillingness to forgive each other. For friendships to last a lifetime, each person should be realistic and expect failures and disappointments in the relationship and be willing and ready to offer forgiveness.
I have found that friendship grows stronger and deeper and more precious every time the cycle of forgiveness and reconciliation is experienced. My best friends are those I have forgiven or who have forgiven me, a couple of times!
I have found this especially to be so in my relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is a friend who not only stands by me in troubled times; constantly nourishes me through His Spirit and Word, but also draws me closer and closer to Him in loving friendship every time He forgives my many sins and is always present when I worship.
I pray that you will find and nourish the kind of friendships we've talked about today and in so doing, have a blessed week.
- Who is your best friend? Why?
- Describe one thing this person has done or said which has cemented your friendship.
- Think of a person you once had a friendship with but no longer do, and explain:
- What broke the friendship?
- What would be necessary to renew that friendship?