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The True Friend - Stand Up, Stand By

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We all love having friends, but are we good at being friends?

Think back to your best friends when you were in elementary school or middle school. What do you remember about those friendships? Can you remember times when you really needed a friend and someone stood by you? Can you remember a time when a friend stood up for you when no one else did? What about the time that a friend stood up to you when you were doing the wrong thing?

True Friendship

In the movie Wonder, a boy named August starts 5th grade in a new school. Auggie, as he’s called, is different than the others—he has a facial deformity, and the other students tease or exclude him because of it. Another student, Jack, is faced with a question: Will he be a good friend to Auggie, or will he go along with the crowd and treat him poorly?

The relationship between Jack and Auggie reminds us all of how difficult it is to be a True Friend and how we can be slow to sacrifice on behalf of others. By the end of the movie, we see Jack learn the joy that comes from laying down his own interests for his friend. As Jack is kind to him, Auggie begins to show more of his personality, and the boys come to have a sweet friendship.

Jack and Auggie experienced a profound truth about friendship: Real friendships start when we are willing to sacrifice to stand by each other. John 15:12 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” A True Friend knows that others deserve to be loved because of the way God loves them.

The Bible, too, tells a story of a great friendship. David, the shepherd boy who became a great king of Israel, would have been killed long before becoming king if it weren’t for his best friend Jonathan. 1 Samuel 18:1 tells us, “Jonathan was bound to David in close friendship, and loved him as much as he loved himself” (Christian Standard Bible). Jonathan was a True Friend, who gave David his armor, his weapons, and even his right to the throne.

Qualities of a True Friend

Being a True Friend isn’t just about being nice. True Friends stand by their friends, as well as stand up for them. They are honest with each other, talking about areas in their life where they are struggling so that they can help each other grow (Proverbs 27:17). They keep each other on track, choosing to “speak the truth in love” when a friend is falling off the path that leads to righteousness (Ephesians 4:15).

And True Friends commit to each other, prioritizing those relationships when things are going well and when it is difficult or even awkward. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Praise God That Jesus Is Our Ultimate Friend

Friendship is not easy, and modeling it to our boys will come with moments of regret. But praise God that we can always point them to a better example than ourselves—a perfect example who reflected True Friendship in his humanity and is still interceding for us today.

John 15:12–13 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus did not merely say he loved his friends—he acted on it. He didn’t call us his friends because loving us was easy. He allowed himself to bear pain and punishment on the cross on our behalf, showcasing the ultimate sacrifice for a friend and laying down of his actual life to save us.

Boys are primarily experiential learners, and the best way we can teach them this virtue is by finding ways to live it out in front of them. This month, what are ways you can love your spouse or best friend that will show your sons that sacrifice is an expression of love?

Ways to Teach True Friendship in Your Home This Month.

  • Use the calendar activities and learn the verses about the True Friend together.
  • As a family, watch the movie Wonder or another favorite movie about friendship and then discuss it together.
  • Ask your boys about their friendships in ways that lead them to not think as much about what people do for them as what they do for other people. For example, when you see them after school, ask them who they talked to at lunch that day or if they had a chance to help a friend.
  • Show them what it means to be a True Friend by going out of your way to serve your spouse or another friend.

Howard Graham

Howard Graham served as Chaplain at PDS and Executive Director of the Building Boys, Making Men program from 2018-2020.

Building Boys, Making Men is a PDS-created program designed to give boys a godly vision and definition of manhood. We believe that boys should be intentionally taught about authentic manhood and have a biblical framework for making wise and edifying choices during their teenage years and beyond. The definition of manhood we teach our boys:

A real man glorifies God by seeking an adventurous life of purpose and passion as he protects and serves others.