I've been thinking a lot lately about friends. Best friends especially.
You know, we talk about a certain few people in our lives referring to them as 'best friends'. And usually these are people that we spend a lot of time hanging out with...people we have gotten to know very well over an extended period of time and are very comfortable with. They are the ones that we call when we are in trouble, when we need a listening ear, or when we need help. They are also the ones that we celebrate with, play with, and double over in laughter with. And they are the ones that we shed tears with, that we mourn with, and the ones who hold us when we sob in our grief. They truly are best friends.
Lately though, someone that I would not have placed in my 'best friends' category did something that made me re-think my definition of 'best friends'. This individual did something for me that I would never expect, based on the casual acquaintance that we have.
He gave me a gift. Not just any gift, but something personal. Something that you wouldn't normally give someone else as a gift, let alone someone you were not close with. And it was not only beautiful and relatively expensive, it was also a gift that was thoughtful and that I could use. If I were buying it for myself, I would likely not have bought such a nice one of these.
At first, I felt kind of weird about it, but when he explained that it was something that he wanted to do because of his appreciation for me and because he felt the Lord had led him to do it - how could I argue?
Now - given the fact that I suspect this individual could not afford such a gift and made a significant sacrifice to give it to me, it would seem that he is a much better friend to me than I would have thought at first. That kind of got me thinking. How many 'best friends' do I have out there, that I may know casually right now but have really not considered to be any more than acquaintances? How many potential best friends are out there that I haven't even met? And, what is the best way to find out?
Well, someone who is a really good friend of mine once said something like this. The best kind of friend is the one who will lay down his life for another friend. And this guy wasn't just blowing smoke either. He was prepared to illustrate that statement all the way to the end. His name is Jesus. He died on a cruel cross and then rose from the grave to make sure I knew that he was my very best friend. He wants you to know that he will be your best friend too, if you'll just take the time to get to know him.
I've re-evaluated my concept of 'best friend' a little. I think that what Jesus said is really it. This individual who upset my neat little world with his gift, really is one of my best friends. I don't have too many other friends who would go to the lengths he did just to be generous to me and make me feel loved. And I'm ashamed to say it, but before this happened, I hadn't made any effort to get to know this individual...I didn't have the time or the desire to do that. I certainly wasn't 'laying down my life'. And he did what he did, laid down a bit of his life, in spite of all that. That, my friends, is a great friend.
There is a proverb that says "A man that has friends, must himself be friendly..." Man do I need a lot of work in that area. But the proverb goes on to say that 'there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother'. For me that friend is Jesus - and with him helping me, I will become a 'best friend' to someone else. It's the least I can do!