In the movie, Ben Hur, the title character says to a good friend, “The greatest gift of all is your presence.” Not only is this a nice play on words (Gift and presents/presence), it is also true of good friends. Being there for each other is more than a cliché. What gift could replace the presence of a friend?
The Gift of Service
There are many reasons to serve others. You may do it out of obligation. You may do it because you believe it is the right thing to do. You might even do it by accident. But what is it like to serve a good friend?
To serve a good friend is a gift in itself. We want our friends to succeed with happiness and dignity. If we can help them along in any way, it is a privilege and a pleasure to share in their progress.
Friends will also work together to serve others. Serving together is a gift because it provides yet another opportunity to help each other along. One of the most fulfilling things I do is throw a cookout at my house for my friends. But what makes it truly fulfilling is the effort that goes into it between my friend John and I. John puts so much energy and passion into the event that I know without a doubt it would not be the overwhelming success that it is without him. So when I experience the joys of a cookout with friends, I am also experiencing the fruits of service between friends. This is a good thing.
Learning to Give by Learning to Receive
Have you ever found (or made) the perfect gift for a friend? If you have, you understand the joy of giving. Sure, it’s satisfying to see them appreciate the gift. But what really counts is what went into the gift. Many people don’t know how to give. This is largely because they don’t know how to receive. Only those who can receive a gift with gladness will be able to give a gift with gladness. You may be questioning me on this. Dave, I’m good at giving gifts, but I don’t like to receive them. I like to see people happy when I give them things, but I feel uncomfortable when someone gives me anything. What are the implications of such a thing? Why can’t you accept a gift with gladness? Why don’t you deserve this good thing? If you could only see that it is to the benefit of your friend if you accept their gift with joy. They want to see you happy. Truly, you are serving your friend when you accept a gift with gladness. And when you experience this, you will be able to do the same. Giving a gift to your friend should serve both parties. Like any act of love, it is mutually beneficial, even if it takes different forms.
Enhancing Your Gifts
Are you an artist, or a singer, or a painter, or a florist, or a writer, or anything else that requires a gift? Friends enhance these gifts in a number of ways. They encourage each other to develop the gift. They offer helpful criticism, which is part of the development process. And since people have different gifts, they humble us. I couldn’t draw like Nate. I couldn’t begin to do the jobs that my friends seem born to do. I couldn’t be a cop, or work at Bose, or fix cars. But since they are my friends, I can appreciate the fact that they all have different strengths. Everyone has their own special thing that can be used to serve others. When a friend is better than you at a certain thing, and they don’t hold it over you, it melts your insecurities. We all have something unique and invaluable to offer the world and our friends. It is good to recognize this. It might stop us from making foolish comparisons.
Coming Soon- Part 6: Suffering