3. Friendship Demands Selfless Sacrifice
When Jonathan stripped off his armor and weapons, he told us a lot about how he thinks things are going to go between he and David. Jonathan’s gift acknowledged that David will be king instead of him and instead of his father.
Then Jonathan went the extra mile for David. When he discovered that his father planned to kill David, he put a plan in place to save David at great cost to himself. He sent David away to hide while he sought to gauged the depth of his father’s anger towards David.
When David did not show up to dinner for a second night, Jonathan told his father that he allowed David to go to a feast. Saul responded by insulting his son and calling for David to be put to death. Jonathan asked his father why he wanted to kill David and Saul responded by throwing a spear at him. At this point, the writer of 1 Samuel made an astute observation. “So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death.
The next morning Jonathan went out into the field and was able to tell David about his father’s murderous plans. The two shared an emotional farewell and David fled from Saul.
Jonathan’s care for David shows us something of the sacrifice involved in friendship. He was loyal to his bond to protect David even though it meant he would not get to be king. He did this at great cost and danger to himself. His father cursed him and threw a spear at him. He could have died as a result of his father’s rage, but he stayed the course because he made a promise to his friend.
Friendship necessarily entails sacrifice. A friendship cannot survive for long if each person involved tends to be self-centered and is unable to put aside their own preferences for the sake of others. The traits that make a friendship flourish involve sacrifice because a genuine friendship involves sacrificing time, resources, emotional energy, and preferences. It means getting to know people, making time to spend with them, bearing with their failures, and working to forgive them when they wrong us.
The beauty of sacrifice in friendship is that it leads to great joy. Jesus said the person who loses his life will find it and the one who saves his life will lose it. Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before him.” These are the surprising values of God’s kingdom. Joy comes through pouring ourselves out for others. Real pleasure comes from having less of our lives revolve around ourselves. The world says to focus only on yourself, but Jesus shows us that life is lived wrongly if we live it only for ourselves.
If you struggle to know how to be a friend, look at your Savior. He said greater love has no one than this that someone would lay down his life for a friend. He could say this was the mark of a true friend because this is exactly what he was about to do for his disciples and for us. Jesus gave himself for us. May this guide the way we approach all of our friendships.
Scott Slayton serves as Lead Pastor at Chelsea Village Baptist Church in Chelsea, AL and writes at his personal blog One Degree to Another: scottslayton.net. He and Beth have been married since 2003 and have four children. You can follow him on Twitter: @scottslayton.
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