What is a Good Friend?

Pastor James
October 19, 2023

Who is your best friend? Why do you consider him/her your best friend? Do you have other friends you can call “good friends”? What makes them “good friends” instead of “just friends”?

You may be good at networking and know a lot of people (and some of them may be important people). You may have many following you on your social media. But can you call them friends? And how many of them are more than just “fair-weather friends”? They may not even be bad people. Initially, they had nothing but good intentions and were excited to befriend you. But maybe the mistake you made, or a dark side of your life they came to see was too much for them.  

Good friends are what fair-weather friends are not. They are with you both in good times and bad times. In bad times, they don’t abandon you. In good times, they celebrate with you. But they are not afraid to speak into your life and tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear. They are willing to risk hurting your feelings, if for a moment, so they can protect you from a bigger pain. But when you foolishly dismiss them and fall flat on your face, they don’t say, “I told you so!” and leave you as others do. Instead, they run to you without a moment’s hesitation and help you get up even when you are disgusted with yourself, ready to give up. Do you have a friend like that? Having such a friend would be one of life’s greatest blessings.

What do you have to do to obtain such a friend—someone you would feel so honored to be friends with, who is loyal and devoted to you? Is it just the luck of the draw?

But how about you? Are you willing to be such a friend to someone else? You say, “If I find someone worthy of my love and devotion!” Perhaps someone famous or talented, or at least attractive and kind-hearted? But when you say that, aren’t you being a fair-weather friend, who wants to be friends only with admirable and attractive people? Would you be willing to be a devoted friend to a “loser”?

Apostle Paul says, “...one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die...” (Romans 5:7). Doing such a thing for a friend would be hard, even our best friend. Do you have a friend like that? But here, Apostle Paul is talking about laying down one’s life for someone simply because he is a righteous person, a good person. This is quite humbling.

But Paul doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say, “...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Isn’t this the kind of friend we long for—someone who knows everything about us, even the most horrible things we have done (“while we were still sinners”), yet does not turn his face away in disappointment and disgust; who has all the right to punish us in anger because our sins were ultimately against him, yet lays down his life for us, instead, to deliver us from the penalty of our sins? Amazingly, the eternal Son of God has done that for sinners like us.

The good news we are here to share with you is that you can have Him as your Friend. No one is good enough to gain such a divine Friend on his own. But the Son of God offers Himself to you as your Friend. It is not because He needs anything from you. He has no illusions about you: He knows everything about you. Yet He came to lay down His life for sinners. This should be liberating. You don’t need to pretend to be something you are not to win approval. But Jesus is the kind of Friend, who not only loves you the way you are but also helps you become what you long to be in your noblest moments as God’s image-bearer. All you need to do is to acknowledge the truth about yourself and accept Him as your Savior-Friend. When you do that, you can start a beautiful and amazing friendship with the eternal Son of God, which will last for all eternity!