The holiday season has officially started! For many of us, celebrations started last week with Friendsgiving. Chances are you have heard of this fun twist on the traditional holiday. Friendsgiving is precisely what it sounds like: celebrating Thanksgiving with your friends and showing gratitude for them. With many college students unable to travel home for the holiday, Friendsgiving has become a popular way of still enjoying the festivities. This holiday season is a great time to reflect on what makes a friendship something to be thankful for and what our role is in these relationships. How can we not only appreciate those around us but also strive to be good friends ourselves?
Friendship requires work and sacrifice. It’s not a one-way street; you won’t gain much from a friendship if you aren’t also giving. Let’s take a look at the ultimate friend as an example, Jesus. John says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (15:13). This is precisely what Jesus did on the cross. The sacrifice of his life exemplifies the greatest form of love and therefore friendship. We can use this example to encourage us to be better friends to those around us. While our friendships may not require death, they certainly call for compromise, sacrifice, and humility. To love others well, we have to continually put them before ourselves.
Jesus also serves as an example of what we should look for in a friend. While they don’t have to be perfect like Jesus, we should be aware that who we keep close to us can influence our behavior and impact our reputation. The Bible tells us that “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor. 15:33). Just as we are to exhibit these Christ-like behaviors, so should our friends. I had never experienced seeing Jesus in a friend so clearly as when I met a girl named Trinity about two years ago. Our youth leader introduced us because she thought we would get along, and after one conversation, I felt as though I had known her my whole life. I trusted her and saw the love that she had for the Lord. The longer we were friends, the more we found in common. We realized that God was using our relationship to redeem the broken ones of our past. He gave us the gift of a beautiful friendship with each other. Fast forward a few months to our youth camp. We were sitting next to each other as an Army veteran shared a sermon. He explained that he met his best friend in combat and that God brought them together to strengthen them in battle. He closed his message by saying, “There is no one else that I would rather go to war with… picture who that person is for you right now.” As he was speaking I could see Trinity in my mind. She is the friend that I will gladly go to war with. Now, we are more like sisters than friends. I have shared my deepest secrets and darkest sins with her. We have spent holidays and vacations together. Her family has become my family and mine hers. One of the best things that she has taught me is that Christ-like love knows no distance. Whether we are in the same city or hundreds of miles apart, nothing changes. Our friendship remains just as strong and we continue to point each other toward Jesus. This friendship would not be possible if it was not for Jesus. Over the past years, He has taught me that He alone forms me into a good friend because He was my friend first.
So, as celebrations begin all around, I encourage you to find a Trinity. Look for a good friend who will exemplify Christ-like love and point you to Jesus. Find a friend who knows your downfalls, your sin, and your failures and still chooses to help you through it rather than condemn you. Look for a friend who makes you say, “There is no one else I would rather go to war with.” Maybe you already have some friends like this. If that is the case, celebrate them and their friendship. But if you don’t, then strive to find one because this season is a great time to remember the value of good friendships.