The Covenant of Friendship (Part 2)

What’s the difference between halfway friends and covenant partners? Halfway friends are quick to be there when times are good, but seem to disappear once the good times end. Covenant partners are there for you when times are good, and they draw even closer to you when times get bad.

After Naomi’s sons died, she decided to take her daughters-in-law back to Bethlehem. It was a long journey, and she needed her daughters by her side if she hoped to make it home alive. Halfway to Bethlehem, Orpah decided to turn around and go back to Moab. But Ruth decided to stay and honor her mother-in-law, since she had made a covenant with her husband to be there for his family, even if he died.

Good friends—real covenant partners—don’t run away during bad times. Not only do they not run away, they stay close and build one another up. Covenant partners call upon something bigger in order to bring hope to their suffering friends. Ruth reminded Naomi that God still had a plan for her, even though Naomi believed that God was  punishing her through the death of her husband and sons.

Trust is vitally important in friendships, and especially so with covenant partners. In my darkest hours, my closest friends reached out to me. They never asked if I needed help; they just showed up. They shielded me when I was weak, and they reminded me that life would carry on. I trusted them and, in return, they trusted me.

Trust is the glue that binds friendships. Halfway friends don’t see the benefit in earning trust because they are only focused on the short term. Covenant partners understand that trust is passed on through giving without needing to be recognized. That’s acting like the Holy Spirit.

It takes a lot of self-confidence to be a covenant partner. Halfway friends are shallow people. They see unfortunate situations as a kind of competition in which they can look and feel better than their suffering friend. But covenant partners aren’t concerned with surface appearances. They’re confident in themselves. Covenant partners build one another up, rather than tear each other down.

When things get tough for one of your friends, are you a halfway friend who runs away or uses the situation to feel better about yourself? Or are you a covenant partner? I strive to be a covenant partner every day. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s much better to kiss your Orpah goodbye.

Photo by Dario Valenzuela on Unsplash