The Bible states that good friends are valuable to have, but what makes a good friend? What are the characteristics of a true friend? Let’s see:
“Ahab” is a Hebrew word for “friend”, meaning “lover”.
A person who has many friends (Heb. word, “rea”, here meaning “acquaintance”) comes to ruin (Heb. word, “raa”, meaning “broken in pieces”). If all you have in life are lots of acquaintances but no real/true/good friends, then you will come to ruin in time of desperate need or trouble.
But what kind of a friend can you have?
Which would you prefer, lots of acquaintances or a couple of close, genuine, committed, good friends, and why?
[So one characteristic of a true friend is “loyalty”. The undeviating allegiance to; morally bound to support or defend.].
Are you loyal to anyone or any group of people, and why?
Prov. 27:6 What is better in this case – a wound or a kiss, and why?
[So, another characteristic of a true friend is “faithfulness”. This trait includes being dependable to confront someone you love about some wrong that’s harming that person in some way, even if it means emotionally wounding or hurting that person’s feelings whom you love.].
Has a friend ever hurt/wounded your feelings because he/she told you about something in your life that was harming or would harm you in some way, but who did so because he/she loved you?
Or, have you ever done this to a friend whom you loved, and why?
Is how you confront your friend just as important as what you say, and why (Gal. 6:1)?
“Alluph” is a Hebrew word for “friend”, meaning “chief/best friend or duke”.
Prov. 16:28 Who should intimate friends not listen to, and why?
When someone has slandered a close friend of yours (makes “false” statements that are harmful to their character or reputation), what did you do or say to that person who was slandering your friend?
What should you have done or said, and why?
[When people are jealous because you have a close friendship with someone, they will oftentimes try to break up that friendship by slandering (making false statements about) your friend. Another characteristic of a true friend is that he/she “protects” his/her friend’s character/reputation by not listening to slander.].
Do you protect your best friend’s character and relationship to you by not listening to false accusations made against him/her, and why?
Or, has your best friend ever protected your character and friendship by not listening to someone who was slandering you?
Prov. 17:9 Who separates intimate friends?
Do you ever try to break up close friendships that other people have with each other by repeating some juicy gossip or confidentiality you’ve heard about one of the friends to the other friend?
If so, is it because you are jealous of the close friendship that they have?
Or, has anyone ever broken up a close friendship you had with someone because the gossiper told some juicy information to your former best friend about you?
[“confidentiality” – is an important element in a close friendship].
“Rea” is a Hebrew word for “friend”, generally meaning “acquaintance or companion”.
Prov. 17:17 What does a friend/companion do at all times?
[“loves” – seeks the other person’s best welfare, according to God’s standards and values].
If your friend sins, you should confront him/her about it if he/she hasn’t confessed it to God (Matt. 18:15) and repented of it (changed his/her thinking regarding not doing it again). However, you should forgive/cover (Psa. 32:1; 85:2) his/her sin(s) because that’s what love does. Read Proverbs 10:12.
[So, another characteristic of a true friend is that he/she “loves” at all times, not just when the person is nice.].
Do you love (seek the best interest of) your friends at all times, and why?
And do you forgive/cover their sin(s), any and all sins, because you love the person?
Prov. 19:4, 6 What adds many friends?
And who will entreat the favor of a generous man?
Who is a friend to the person who gives gifts?
Do you want the kind of friends that stick with you because of your wealth and/or generosity or because they like you for who you are and not for what you have, and why?
Why do you think people are your friends?
How can you find out which type of friends you really have?
Is this important for you to know, and why?
Prov. 27:9 To what is a person’s counsel to his friend compared?
[Both oil/incense and perfume were “valuable” in biblical times and sweet or pleasant/fragrant and, therefore, “desirous”.].
Do you regard the biblical counsel that you get from your real, godly Christian friends as valuable and desirous, and why?
[So, another characteristic of a true friend is that he/she “gives valuable, biblical counseling” when needed.].
Do you avoid or reject biblical counsel from your friends because you want to do your own thing rather than what’s right or best, and why?
And do you give your friends biblical advice even when it may hurt them or they don’t want it, and why?
“Philos” is a Greek word for “friend”, meaning “loved, dear, or attached by affection”.
Lk. 15:4-9 What did the man and the woman in these two illustrations ask their friends to do with them?
Are your friends that dear to you or attached by affection to you that you feel the freedom to ask them to rejoice and celebrate with you over something good that has happened to you?
Or, do you feel that your friends could care less about anything good that happens to you?
Or, would they even despise or be envious of any good that happens to you?
Have you ever asked your friends to rejoice and celebrate with you over something good that has happened to you?
If so, when, and what was it?
[Other characteristics of a true friend are that he/she wants to share his/her excitement and/or blessings with you, and the other friend wants to gladly share in this excitement and/or blessings of his/her friend rather than being jealous of his/her friend’s blessings or despise his/her friend’s sharing of excitement.].
Jn. 15:12-13 What is the greatest expression of love for a friend?
Would you be willing to do this?
To date, what do you consider to be the greatest expression of love that you’ve ever expressed to a friend? (You don’t need to mention the person’s name)?
And what has been the greatest expression of love that a friend has ever expressed to you?
[Another characteristic of a close or good friendship is “self-sacrifice”.].
In your close friendships, are you self-sacrificing or are you self-centered and selfish, and why?
Jn. 15:14 If Jesus’ disciples did what, were they really His friends?
Do you think that you are a real friend of Christ, and why?
Why do you think Jesus requires obedience to Him as a prerequisite to being a friend of His?
Jn. 15:15 What did Jesus share with His disciples that indicated that they were His friends?
[“All that He heard”, refers to such things as why He was sent to earth – Matt. 18:11; why He was going to lay down His life – Jn. 10:15-18; why He had to leave this earth – Jn. 16:7; what He would do at His return – Matt. 24; etc.].
How open are you in sharing the deepest and most important personal things about yourself with your close friends, and why?
[So, another characteristic of a close friendship is that of “deep level, personal communication”.].
Is it easy or hard for you to have deeper-level, personal communication with close friends, and why?
Acts 10:24-27, 43-44 What did Cornelius do in anticipation of Peter’s coming with something to say from God?
When you know that something special is going to take place, do you want your friends to be in on it too, and why?
If so, when was the last time you did this, and regarding what?
[Another characteristic of a close friendship is “sharing beneficial information or events”.].
Acts 19:23-31 What did both Paul’s disciples and the Asiarchs, who were friends of Paul, not allow Paul to do?
How would you respond if one of your friends was facing danger, and why?
[Another characteristic of a true friendship is being “protective” of the friend’s physical well-being.].
Has anyone ever protected you from physical danger? If so, how?
What did Paul receive from his friends at Sidon before going on his trip to Rome as a prisoner because of his Christianity?
How would you respond to a friend of yours who was in a similar predicament as Paul was in, and why?
Can you think of any situation where it could have been or was either embarrassing or dangerous for you to give care to your friend unashamedly?
[Another characteristic of a good friendship is that of “giving/showing practical care” to a friend who was in an unjust situation.].
Share an example of when you’ve done this if you have.
Jas. 4:4 When are you an enemy of God?
Are you a friend of (attached by affection to) the world (i.e., all the floating mass of thoughts … goals, priorities, values, aspirations… of people who are living hostile and apart from God – Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament), and why?
EXAMPLES OF FRIENDSHIPS
1 Sam. 18:1, 3-4
Though Jonathan was the king’s son and next in line to be the king of Israel, how did he feel toward David?
How did Jonathan show this?
Have you ever felt this way toward someone else, especially toward someone who was inferior to you in some way (e.g., socially, economically, academically, positionally, etc.)?
Or, has someone ever demonstrated this kind of self-sacrificing love to you?
1 Sam. 31:2; 2 Sam. 1:17, 25-26 How did David feel toward Jonathan?
What did David say about Jonathan’s love for him?
[“More wonderful than the love of women” means “seeking the other person’s highest good and is loyal, self-sacrificing, and constant” rather than romantic, transient, and fickled.].
[Such friends as this are rare, so if you ever have one like this, thank God and treasure it.].
Because the Bible/God states that homosexuality is a sin and society for the most part frowns on it, do you think Christian men refrain from having close friendships with other Christian men so that they are not perceived as being “gay”?
Prov. 13:20 Who will be wise?
And who is wise (Prov. 10:14, 19; 11:30; 14:16; 23:17-21; 29:8, 11)?
Do you pick friends who are wise, and why?
1 Sam. 23:15-18 What did Jonathan do for David?
What indicates that Jonathan was humble, loyal to David, and not envious of David?
Do you have a friend to whom you are loyal, encouraging, humble around, and not envious of?
What will it take on your part to be a friend like that to someone?
1 Sam. 14:6-7 What indicates a real friendship between Jonathan’s armor bearer and Jonathan?
Are you loyal and committed to your close friends?
If so, how do you show it?
What do you think produces this kind of loyalty?
Ruth 1:3-18 What kind of friendship did Ruth have to her mother-in-law Naomi?
What did Ruth say that expressed a strong commitment to Naomi (Ruth 1:15-16)?
[You wouldn’t want to say this to someone who was not a Christian.].
Have you ever verbally expressed a strong commitment to your closest friends, and why?
Jn. 11:1-3, 5, 11, 35-36
What kind of friendship existed among Lazarus, Mary, Martha, and Jesus?
Have you ever humbled yourself in ministering to a friend of yours in some way, as Mary self-sacrificingly did in verse two?
Or, has a friend of yours ever ministered to you in a self-sacrificing or humbling way?
If so, how (no need to mention names)?
Jn. 13:21-26; 19:26-27; 20:2-5
What would indicate that John had a close friendship with Jesus?
Do you feel the freedom to express your love and friendship in physical ways (to people of the same gender) as John did?
Or, do you feel inhibited because of social pressure and all the perversion that’s going on today?
1 Cor. 15:33 About hat shouldn’t we be deceived?
Why is this true?
What qualities or characteristics do you look for in someone who you want to be your close friend, and why?
Do you think that you would make/be a good/close friend to someone else, and why?