A Guide to 7 Signs of a True Friend

It can be tough to know who your true friends really are. When we look at what the Bible has to say, we learn what friendship really looks like.

Have you heard the classic song, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” by Randy Newman? It’s a wonderful song about friendship and contains the lyrics:

"When the road looks rough ahead
And you're miles and miles
From your nice warm bed
You just remember what your old pal said
Boy, you've got a friend in me
Yeah, you've got a friend in me"

These words convey a fundamental truth: everyone needs a true friend.

But these days, it can be tough to know who your true friends really are. If you’re like most people, you probably have a lot of “friends” on Facebook. Most of them, however, aren’t your real friends. They’re simply acquaintances.

So how can you identify those individuals who are your real, strong, true friends?

In this article, we’re going to look at what the Bible has to say about friendship. In the pages of Scripture, we learn what true friendship really looks like.

The Definition Of A True Friend

Before we look at the signs of a true friend, let’s look at the definition of a true friend. Put simply, a true friend is someone who loves you as God loves you.

When we look at how God treats us we get a picture of what true friendship really looks like.

When Jesus walked the earth, He perfectly modeled true friendship. Jesus wasn’t aloof, keeping Himself at a distance from those around Him. He entered into people’s lives, walking with them through the joys and sorrows of life. Jesus built friendships with a variety of people, including fishermen, tax collectors, and even prostitutes. In Jesus, we see what it means to be a true friend.

If we want to be a good friend to others, we must seek to imitate Jesus. We must strive to interact with others as Jesus did.

With this definition in mind, let’s look at different signs of true friendship.

Signs Of A True Friend

Supportive

The first sign of a wonderful friend is that they are supportive of you. They deeply love you and are always there for you. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that they support you when you are doing something harmful to yourself or others. It means that they want to help you love God more and succeed in life.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 says,

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.”

Real friends come alongside you and work with you to help you attain a “good reward”. They aren’t focused primarily on what they can get out of the friendship. Rather, they seek ways to creatively support you in whatever ways they can.

Faithful

There are two types of friends: real friends and fair-weather friends.

Fair-weather friends are with you in the good times but can’t be found when things get difficult. These friends will stay beside you as long as they are getting something in return. When you find yourself in the midst of challenging circumstances, they vanish.

Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Fair-weather friends don’t want to bear your burdens because that takes work. True friends, on the other hand, are eager to come alongside you and help you when you are walking through trials and difficulties.

Jesus is the ultimate burden bearer. In 1 Peter 5:6-7 we read,

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Jesus doesn’t want you to bear your burdens on your own. Instead, He invites you to cast all your cares upon Him and to let Him carry the heavy load.

True friends are faithful like Jesus. When the going gets tough, they stay right beside you and help you walk the road before you.

Patient

If someone is constantly impatient with you, they’re not a true friend. The best relationships are those where each person is deeply patient with the other. Relationships simply can’t survive when patience is absent.

We’re all human, which means we make mistakes and sin and don’t live up to expectations. If a person can’t be patient with your humanness, they aren’t going to make a good friend.

No one is more patient than Jesus. Just look at how He treated His disciples. They regularly misinterpreted His words. They bickered about who was the greatest. Peter rebuked Jesus for saying He was going to die on the cross and even denied knowing Jesus. Thomas refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Yet in spite of all this, Jesus was infinitely patient with them. He washed their feet. He invited Thomas to touch His resurrected body. He gently restored Peter to fellowship.

True friends are patient like Jesus. They give you space to grow and change, not demanding perfection of you.

Forgiving

Forgiveness is essential in friendship. Inevitably, there will come a time when you sin against or offend your friends. True friends extend forgiveness to you. They don’t hold grudges or constantly bring up the ways that you’ve hurt them. They don’t make you earn your way back into their good graces.

God has poured out His forgiveness on us. Through the blood of Christ, He has forgiven all our sins against Him. Though our sins are like scarlet, He has washed us white as snow.

Ephesians 1:7 says,

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

Real friends give you the same forgiveness that they’ve received from God. They forgive because they have been forgiven. Those who refuse to forgive aren’t true friends.

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Keep Confidence

Have you ever told a person something private, only to learn later that they shared that information with others? You probably didn’t trust them much after that.

The simple truth is that you can’t have a meaningful friendship with someone who betrays your confidence.

Proverbs 11:13 says,

“A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”

True friends are of a “faithful spirit”. When you share important, private information with them, they don’t pass it on to other people. They don’t gossip about you behind your back or talk badly about you when you’re not around.

Proverbs 16:28 says,

“A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends.”

Good, godly friends refuse to “whisper” about you to others.

Tells You The Truth

Good friends don’t always tell you what you want to hear. They lovingly tell you the truth, even if that truth is difficult to hear. To be clear, they’re not trying to hurt you with their words. Actually, they want the best for you. They know that it’s the truth that sets you free, and they want you to know that truth.

Proverbs 19:20 says,

“Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.”

You can be confident that your real friends will give you true counsel and instruction. They won’t flatter you or avoid talking about difficult subjects.

Jesus always lovingly spoke the truth to His friends, even if that truth was hard to hear at times. Your true friends will interact with you in the same way.

Want The Best For You

Ultimately, true and godly friends want what is best for you. They want to see you prosper in life. They want you to experience God’s best. They don’t get jealous when you are blessed by God. They don’t want to succeed at your expense. They deeply love you and are glad when you thrive.

Colossians 3:14 says,

“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

Love is the ultimate mark of friendship. When someone truly loves you and cares for you, they always seek your good.

Who Are Your Friends?

Do you have friends who display the characteristics described above? If you do, give thanks to God! These people are an incredible blessing for which you can be grateful. Seek to deepen your relationships with these individuals. Press into these friendships.

If you don’t have any truly meaningful friendships, ask God to give you some. He doesn’t want you to walk through life alone. He wants you to have friends who will come alongside you, encourage you, and strengthen you.

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