I have a book in my library which has a story of Albrecht Durer. The account goes that he wanted to paint and become a great artist. He met a man who became his friend and roommate who also aspired to the same dream. But both being poor they couldn’t afford schooling at the same time. So Durer’s friend devised a plan: he would work to support his pal in his studies and when Durer began to sell his art, then it would be Durer’s turn to support him through his education ! His friend toiled long hours as did Albrecht in his studies. Finally , the plan seemed to be paying off as Durer started to turn a profit from his art work. He told his good friend that now it was his turn to help but his friends hands had become gnarled and badly damaged from the work he had been doing, he could not paint ! Albrecht Durer was greatly saddened for his friend who’d given to him so.
One day upon returning home unexpectedly he heard his roommate speaking and noticed his toilworn hands folded in prayer and he came upon a great idea. “I can show the world my appreciation by painting his hands as I see them now, folded in prayer !” Today we know the painting as “The Praying Hands” – check them out here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wyscan/161992803/
Friends can be a wonderful gift of God ! I’m greatly concerned we are losing that gift of friendship. Many people text and shut themselves out from the voice of a friend. Too much time with technology stunts our social growth. People retreat into their homes and rarely venture out and socialize or open up their homes to entertain. We get so busy we just want to veg out and live solitary lives. But God has something better for us. And it may be we have truly tried our “hand” at being a friend only to become gnarled and twisted in our heart by the toil and treason of what we thought was a friendship and we have cynically retreated into the safety of solitude. In other words, “If thats what friendship is, I dont want another one !” Easy to come to that position in this old world, huh?
Jonathan was a prime example of being a good friend. His relationship with David teaches us many good principles we can cultivate to be a better buddy ! He was SELFLESS. In 1 Samuel 18:4 his divesting of his princely garments and weapons and giving them to his friend was his way of saying. “Yeah, my dad is king but I will gladly give that up for God and you !” Sadly how often people selfishly engage in a relationship for what they can get not what they can give ! Verse one states the “soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David” – in short, they were tight ! What helped was the selflessness of both of these godly friends.
Also, a good friend is SPIRITUALLY ENCOURAGING just as we note in 23:16 that Jonathan “strengthened his [David’s] hand in God”. Its an intensive idea in the Hebrew, so no non-chalant “I’ll be praying for you” but SERIOUS & SINCERE help ! And David needed it. Saul was trying to kill him !! Jonathan took the time to know what was the matter and draw on God’s Word to help David. As a great friend Jonathan was “stepping inside David’s skin” to understand what he was going through and what he needed to assist him. Yet all too often we’re all wrapped up in us and we want to be encouraged all the time rather than ministering that way to others. Small talk is fine but it needs to rise to a higher level. How longs it been since you had a good spiritual conversation that uplifts another? A good friend will ask you how you are doing and MEAN it ! And that kind of a friend will also know and enjoy the satisfaction of having been used of God to lift up another person when he’s down.
Do you have any friends like that? Are you striving to be that kind of a friend? One of the best arenas is in the local church, its here you will meet some of those Jonathan’s, Davids, or Albrecht Durers. The Great Commission suggests we are and have friends (Matt.28:19-20). So why not pick up the phone today and call a friend and build on that relationship. Why not invite a friend out for coffee or if your Becky or Rachelle an Iced Coffee ! HA. BE and PAINT those hands !!