Friends –– truly great friends –– are hard to come by. They’re rare and precious jewels to be treasured.
While everybody longs for great friends, few think about being one. How different our lives and our world would be if we simply made the shift from “having to being!”
The Bible gives us some wonderful insights into the qualities of great friends. These qualities come to light in a special way when we study the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul. While Paul had a lot of disappointing relationships –– many people who betrayed him and deserted him –– he was also blessed with a few amazing friends. Paul couldn’t have accomplished the things he accomplished without them!
One such friend was a man named Onesiphorous. Don’t let his name intimidate you. He was a “true blue” friend to Paul. Pay close attention to the way Paul described this man to Timothy:
May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus. –– 2 Timothy 1:16-18 (NIV)
Three phrases describe the dedicated actions of Onesiphorous toward Paul. These actions show us part of what it means to be a real friend.
First, Paul says that Onesiphorous regularly refreshed him. The term for “refreshed” means “to make cool with fresh air or refrigerated water when the body is overheated.” This man made it a priority to refresh Paul, and he did it often!
Secondly, Paul described Onesiphorous’ determination to find him when he was taken to Rome as a prisoner. Paul says that his friend “searched hard” for him. Onesiphorous could have conveniently dismissed his friend, given the circumstances, but he didn’t. He sought Paul out when Paul needed him the most. He made every effort to be there for him.
Finally, Paul spoke of the helpful nature of Onesiphorous’ role in his life. Paul’s words to Timothy say it best, “… You know very well in how many ways he helped me …” This friend found ways to help. He served Paul well in a variety of ways –– in whatever ways were needed. He truly was a great friend!
How about you? What kind of friend are you? Do you refresh others? Are you present when people need you? Are you a helper or a “hurter?” Do you serve the people God has placed in your life in whatever way needed?
Let’s all seek to be great friends to others!