Right now I'm going through 1 Samuel, studying the life of David and the deep bond between him and Jonathan--a man who should have been in contention with David.
I'm so thankful for the friends--and I have quite a few--who exhibit these traits.
True friends rejoice when their friends rejoice:
As the son to King Saul, Jonathan had every "right" to the throne, and yet, he acknowledged God's anointing over his friend and didn't give jealousy any room to destroy. This point may seem arbitrary to us in specific terms of royal reign, but we can certainly connect on other levels.
*The job you applied for went to someone else. *The guy you prayed about suddenly started dating someone else. *The friend just revealed her pregnancy, as you miscarried.
True friendship exclaims, "Wahoo, I'm so happy for you," and we really mean it. Green-eyed disdain doesn't creep up because we genuinely wish the best for our friends. We love them as we love ourselves.
In similar strokes, True friends grieve with those who grieve: This practice takes more sacrifice, I think. After all, grief and sadness, loss and pain, require time. And time isn't something many people willingly relinquish. Even so, true friendships are solidified in the midst of our deepest soul need. When the shadows of this life's deficiencies takes a choke-hold, we need to know that someone is going to step up and help loosen the fingers so we can breathe again.
True friends ask "what can I do?" and then do it. Nothing squelches bonds like failure to follow-through with your word. Your words stand as representatives of your attitude and desires. Obviously, we can fake it at times, but ultimately, our true heart will come out. If you say, "I want to be there for you," then be there.
True friends tell each other the truth. I've always appreciated friends with candor: I knew what I was getting. Perhaps because honesty is such a valuable trait to me, I'd rather hear a painful truth over a soothing lie (Proverbs 27:6). I have some friends who aren't afraid to tell me what I need to hear, not because they wish to wound me, but because they care about my spiritual growth and my closeness to the Lord. I can trust that kind of "pain."
True friends don't tell others "your truths." The friends who I esteem as those "true and deep" relationships, the ones who tell me what I need to hear and listen to my dark failings and fears, are also the ones who carry discretion with my vulnerability. I know they aren't going to turn and use my open heart as a means to connect with someone else. Beware of someone who gossips about others to you; they are often turning to those same people about your secrets as well.
"A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends." Proverbs 16:28
"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." Prov. 27:17
"He who walks with the wise grows wise, [...]" Prov. 13:20