Have you ever had one of those friends who, even though you may not talk to each other for months at a time, when you finally do reconnect, you easily pick up right where you left off as if no time had transpired? What is it about a relationship like that that stands the test of time? When I think of my best friend, I see three qualities that have made our friendship last.

1. Grace

A good friend is someone you can bounce things off of when you are faced with important decisions in life – job changes, financial decisions, a relationship that is getting serious, married life, family life, etc. There have been many times when I have listened to things my friend is sharing or he is listening to me and one of us may be thinking that the other is not thinking clearly. Grace in a friendship is listening despite how crazy things may sound, then asking challenging questions to get the other person to possibly think of things in other terms. On the flip side, telling someone they are wrong followed by your personal list of reasons why is the opposite of grace. A good friend builds the other up instead of tearing them down.

2. Mercy

Sometimes, even when we have asked all the right questions to get the other person to think differently about the decision they are facing, they ignore our attempts and end up in the very predicament we were trying to help them avoid. Mercy doesn’t criticize; instead it gently helps a friend out of a situation even if you thought it could have been avoided. Mercy does not say “I told you so.”

3. Unconditional Love

This is the hallmark of my relationship with my best friend. No matter what mistakes we make; no matter how much we may disappoint each other by something said or by our actions; no matter what it is that we don’t see eye to eye on; we have never stopped loving each other. There is no “condition” of our friendship. I know, without question, that my best friend will always be there for me when I need him.

Benefits Of A True Friend

There so many benefits of having a friend like this, but one of the biggest that I have found is that close friends share in each other’s lives. We pray constantly for each other and regularly hold each other accountable not only in our walk with God, but also in our relationships with our wives. For almost two years now, every Thursday, my friend and I do a sunrise to sunset fast and pray for each other – our ministries, our families, our marriages and our jobs. When one of us is struggling, the other is there to encourage. When one of us stumbles, the other is there to help them back up. Proverbs 17:17 tells us that “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” I can’t begin to count the amount of “adversity” we have faced together and how reassuring it has been to know that we have each other to lean on.

An Even Closer Friend

As great as my best friend is, I have an even greater best friend in my wife. Our relationship with our spouse should be even closer than that of a same-sex best friend, and yet that does not seem to be the case in most marriages. Why is that?

I would submit to you that it is because we don’t always apply the qualities we show in a friendship to our marriage – grace, mercy and unconditional love. Instead of giving grace to our spouse when we disagree with a direction they may be heading, we criticize and try to coerce them to conform to our way of thinking. Instead of giving mercy to our spouse when a decision goes badly, we flaunt the fact that our way would have turned out better with a resounding “I told you so.” Instead of unconditional love, we make comparisons and keep score as if love was something to be weighed on a scale.

If you are married and struggling, start seeing your spouse in a new way – as a best friend – and begin applying the qualities of a best friend to them. If you are single and looking to find that special person to spend the rest of your life with, don’t focus on the attraction and the romance; build a friendship instead. My wife and I spent our 13 months of dating prior to getting married becoming friends, and have spent the last 18 years cultivating that friendship. Grace, mercy and unconditional love have given us the most amazing marriage and made us the best of friends.

You may also be interested in What Does A BFF Look Like? 3 Examples Of Friendship In The Bible

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