The story of David and Jonathan has always struck me as intriguing. David was a boy from “Nowheresville”, Israel. He was chosen as a shepherd of sheep to be transformed by God into a Shepherd of the Lord’s People (1 Samuel 16:1-13). Acts 13:22 describes him as a man after God’s own heart. And then there was Jonathan, one of Saul’s sons—a mighty man of valor and likely the heir to the throne. Yet, what makes this story truly amazing is that Jonathan loved and cared for David like a brother. He wasn’t like Job’s friends, who were cynical of Job and instead of finding out what was going on in his life, chose to ridicule him. No, Jonathan wasn’t like Job’s friends; Jonathan was a real friend. Jonathan was a loyal, caring, and concerned friend.

I want you to think back to a time in your life when you had a loyal, caring, and concerned friend. Perhaps you have had more than one friend like this, and I truly hope and pray you currently have one (or more) of this type of friend now. I remember sitting alone (by choice) at the high school youth camp while thinking to myself, I’m all alone. True, I had chosen to be by myself at that moment, but the real truth was that I felt all alone. My parents were getting a divorce and my heart was broken over this fact. Suddenly, however, two guys from the high school youth group, who also happened to be juniors (like me), saw me sitting alone and came over. I told them I felt like no one in our junior class cared about me. You know what they did? They reached out to me and went so far as to call a class meeting telling everyone that we needed to care for one another. Theirs was a call to model what I’m describing here in this article: being a loyal, caring, and concerned friend.

Real friends go to battle for one another. As Christians, we’re in a war against a very real foe (and yet one who is vanquished) in Satan. One day Satan’s kingdom will come to an end at the glorious appearing of our great God and King—Jesus Christ. That day is not yet here, however. We live in a time when everything seems to be going against us as believers in Christ. As Jonathan was loyal to David—even going out of his way to hide David from Saul, who was jealous of David, so also do we need friends who are loyal and who will go the extra mile for us.

Loyalty

Are you a loyal friend? At some point in your life, you’re going to need a loyal friend. Resolve right now to be that friend to someone else. All around us are people who are hurting, struggling, and in need of help. This year, instead of focusing only on what is going on in your own life, I want to encourage you to reach out to the person next to you in the pew on Sunday. Men, go to that Men’s event at your local church and make new friends. Women, go to that ladies event and meet the other women of your local church.

In order to be a loyal friend, you first need to reach out to other people with a hand of friendship. You may not always connect with everyone, and that is okay, but be willing to reach out nonetheless. I assure you that you’ll find people at your local church with whom you’ll naturally connect with, but don’t settle only for those people you easily connect with; reach out to those who are neglected in your church. By doing so, you’re not only being a loyal friend, but a true disciple of Jesus Christ one who loves to reach out to those who are lonely, broken, and outcasts.

Caring

Please brothers and sisters in Christ, be a caring friend. We live in a world where we are confronted by challenges on every side. Many of us have gone through the ringer, and the last thing we want or need is a cynical and judgmental ‘friend’ who questions our situations and motives at every turn. Do not be that type of ‘friend’.

As Christians, we are called at times to speak hard words to one another. The reason we have the credibility to do so, in the eyes of our friends, is because we’ve shown them that we are loyal and caring. I’ve been the receiver of such hard words, and I can verify that they are not fun to hear. I’ve often had harsh words delivered to me by people who didn’t know what was really going on in my life. I’ve also heard these words from people who I assumed cared about me but spoke those hard words in such a way that made it hard to listen. Friends, let us be loyal to one another, after all, we are friends of God. As Christians we are family! Let us treat one another as family—not judging one another, but showing godly care and concern. After all, the world is to know us by our love for one another (John 13:35).

Concerned

Be a concerned friend. Be the kind of friend that you know you need in your own life. At various times in my life, I’ve needed the type of friend who was willing to speak hard words into my life. The reason they spoke—and even more importantly, the reason that I listened—was because I knew this type of friend was loyal and cared about me. They were truly concerned about the direction of my life, and I was ready to hear what they had to say.

You need to realize that even if you’re a loyal and caring friend, your friend may not be ready to hear what you have to say. So before you speak, ask the Lord, “Is this person really ready to hear what I have to say?” If after praying and seeking godly counsel from other believers (in the abundance of many counselors there is wisdom), you feel the need to speak, please do so only in a grace-centered fashion. Don’t make demands; show grace. Give the benefit of doubt in a large portion. Listen to how the other person responds to you and clarify if that person doesn’t understand. But above all, be sure to give a lot of grace.

Lastly, godly friendships are a great need in our day. The kind of friend I’ve described in this article is type I strive to be. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it. The kind of Christian friends who have invested in me have displayed these three attributes: loyal, caring, and concerned.

I hope and pray that today you’ll begin to be this kind of friend—the kind that loves his/her friend so much that he/she is willing to sacrifice like Jonathan did with David. This is the kind of friend who enters the mess of life, knowing that God meets us in the muck of our lives and desires to change us by His grace. Brothers and sisters, be that kind of friend to someone else by the grace of God. I assure you that if you’ll be a loyal, caring, and concerned friend that God will use you in powerful ways in the lives of His people (His friends) for His glory.