Friendship is a wonderful gift, but what does being a friend really mean? Christian friendship means you put your friend’s needs ahead of your own.

Catering to your friends’ needs means that when a friend needs you, you are there. You put aside what you want or need to do to be present physically, emotionally and spiritually to your friend.

Are you a friend in deed? Actions speak louder than words. You may talk the friendship talk, but fail to walk the Christian friendship walk if your actions don’t match your words.

Christians are called to love their neighbors and to put their love into action by helping others. This was the message Jesus gave to his Apostles when asked which of the commandments was the most important.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all they mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. —Matthew 22:37-39, KJV

Friends lift one another up in every way. From helping with physical needs to helping a friend cope during times of stress with emotional and spiritual support, true friends are there with love, support and acceptance.

Knowing what your friends need isn’t always easy. People sometimes offer to help with whatever someone needs, especially during difficult times. However, many people don’t want to ask for help when it’s truly needed.

Instead of asking what your friend needs, offer specific assistance. If a friend is moving, offer to help pack boxes, watch the children or help set up one room after the move.

If a friend is suffering from an illness or chronic condition, offer meaningful help. Ask if you can cut the grass, clean out the gutters, clean the house or provide a few meals to help.

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. —Proverbs 17:17, KJV

Sometimes a friend needs more than a helping hand. Offering emotional support may involve taking a late night phone call from a friend suffering from depression or acting as a sounding board for a friend whose child is involved with the wrong crowd.

Offering spiritual support for your friends may include praying daily for all of your friends or adding a friend’s name to a prayer chain or list during the friend’s specific time of need.

Having a special service offered for your friend in honor of a birthday or anniversary is also a form of spiritual support. Serving as a godparent to your friend’s child is another form of spiritual support.

Forming a prayer group with several of your friends is a way for each of you to offer spiritual support for one another. Lift one another up in prayer and pray for the special needs of other people you know.

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. —John 15:12-13, KJV

You may never be called to lay down your life for your friends; however, you may be asked to sacrifice for your friends. When a friend is seriously ill, suffering from a chronic condition or coping with the terminal illness or loss of a family member, the need for friendship will be more pronounced.

In difficult times, your friend may question God’s plan, struggle with feelings of guilt, strike out in anger or lose faith in God. Offer a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear and a nonjudgmental attitude.

Good friends are one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Christian friends are friends in deed in good times and in bad times. Each of us will face times of sorrow, pain and loss. Friends who share a belief in God can help one another experience the best and worst moments in life, sharing laughter and tears.

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