Photo by Kasuma at Pexels
When I typed in “Friend” to Pexels to find a great photo for this post, so many images came up. Friends; playing together, sharing food, exploring together, dressing up together, standing by each other, helping each other, working together, showing each other things, teaching each other, exercising together, having fun together, old friends.
I remember asking God early in my Christian walk, ‘What makes a good friend? How can I be a good friend?’
This week I was reminded of it when some beautiful old school friends reached out and called a reunion. I thought about my friends since school, since becoming a Christian, and I thought, ‘Wow! God really has done a good work in me, and he has given me such good friends!’ It was a moment of deep gratitude and praise.
Especially when remember back to when I first asked those questions at the age of 26. At that moment I had zero close friends. I had shut them out, put them off, or walked away. But at 26 God was unwrapping my heart and letting me love and be loved again. All of a sudden I wanted friends. However, I recognised that I was more skilled at making friendships with men than women. As a new, unmarried, Christian woman this was not a good thing.
So I asked God. What makes a good friend? How can I be a good friend? And I went off to the Christian bookstore. There I found a book by Dee Brestin called Friendships with Women, which I read and defaced with my copious notes. Yes I went to my very own private Christian friendship school! Friendships with Women was based on the book of Ruth.
This week in my bible reading, coincidently, I read the Book of Ruth. Thinking about my upcoming school reunion, I challenged myself to ask the question again in light of Ruth. Am I a Good Friend? Then, since I don’t own the book anymore because I passed it on to someone else who needed it’s wisdom, I made myself do a little Ruth’s Friendship Keys refresher straight from the bible! I found 15 keys.
Key 1 – Even when they tell you otherwise, cling to your friends!
Ruth 1:14 says,
At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
Key 2 – Choose friends whose God you want to follow and whose people you are willing to make ‘your people’.
Key 3 – If it comes to it, urge your friends to encourage you to stay their friend, not to push you away.
Ruth 1:16 says,
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.
Key 4 – In a new group of friends be prepared to pick up the leftover favours for a while. None-the-less look for a group of kindness and favour.
Ruth 2:2 says,
“Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”
Key 5 – Be faithful to your friends. A reputation for faithfulness will go ahead of you and be a blessing to you.
Ruth 2:11 says,
Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
Key 6 – Remember where you came from, do not despise your humble beginnings, stay humble.
Ruth 2:13 says,
“May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”
Key 7 – Humility and hard work gain trust and recognition.
Ruth 2:14-17 says,
At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”
When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”
So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah.
Key 8 – Share with your friends, do not hold back from your friends.
Ruth 2:18-19 says,
She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left overafter she had eaten enough.
Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”
Key 9 – If you find a group full of kindness and favour don’t stray from it, even if you don’t become ‘an equal’ straight away.
Ruth 2:22-23 says,
Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”
Key 10 – Persevere even when things take a while, do the work and time of being a reliable, steady, trustworthy friend.
Ruth 2:23 says,
So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
Key 11 – When we are faithful to our friends they spontaneously repay our kindness in ways that are unique to them.
Ruth 3:1 says,
One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home[a] for you, where you will be well provided for.
Key 12 – If a friend, lead by God, asks you to do something so that they may bless you, listen and do it, even if it appears to put you in a compromising position.
Ruth 3:3-6 says,
Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”
“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.
Key 13 – Good character attracts good character.
Ruth 3:10-13 says,
“The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”
Key 14 – When we do not attempt to deny our past but illustrate our redemption by living lives of faith it brings honour and redemption. (Tamar conceived Perez by pretending to be a prostitute. However, both she, and Ruth and Boaz, along with Boaz’ mother, Rahab the prostitute who helped the Israelite spies, are remembered and honoured in the Genealogy of Christ.)
Ruth 4:11-12 says,
Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez,whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
Key 15 – Our faithful friendship blesses our friends more than we can anticipate.
Ruth 4:14-17 says,
The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
So I am challenged once again, encouraged and rebuked by Ruth’s friendship keys. I have much to be thankful for and more to do. I thank Dee Brestin for her encouragement all those years ago and encourage you to read her book. There is an e-book copy through Amazon. I cannot remember her exact revelation or how she set out the book but I can say it gave me friends and I am very grateful for it.
Be blessed today, be encouraged, you can be a good friend, you can live a life of faith and you can bless others. I pray God will help you do it.
If you were blessed by this post like, or share it and join the conversation in the comments below.
Lots of love,
© Lauren Macdonald. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission, from this blog’s author, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lauren Macdonald @ http://godhelpmei.com