A covenant friendship is a special type of friendship. Once you've made this type of friendship, it typically lasts a lifetime. Whether you’re new to faith or have had a lifetime of worship under your belt, understanding what a covenant friendship is and how to cultivate one can be a blessing you didn’t even know you needed. Especially if you choose to make a home in an assisted living community.
In order to know what a covenant friendship is, it's helpful to understand what a covenant is. A covenant is similar to a contract: It’s an agreement between at least two parties. But where a contract is a legal document covered under the law, a covenant is an agreement covered by God.
Put simply, a covenant is a sacred guarantee either by God, with Him or in front of Him.
A covenant friendship is a friendship in which you are binding yourself to each other as friends in the eyes of God. It’s a friendship that’s God-inspired and God-focused.
These friendships are more than acquaintances; they’re fulfilling relationships with people who you know God has put in your life because of how they treat you. They’re the friendships that are always there for you. These friendships involve people that ask you the tough questions instead of telling you what you need to hear. You know they always have your best interests at heart because they have God in theirs.
First of all, a covenant friendship is not superficial. It’s not an acquaintanceship. A covenant friendship is also not an unequal or one-sided friendship; it’s a mutual relationship.
It’s also not something that tears you down. A covenant friendship is not one wherein one party is in charge of another or is berating them. It isn’t a subservient relationship in terms of one person being dominant—it’s a service-oriented relationship where each person serves as Christ served us.
Perhaps the most famous example of a covenant friendship is that of Jonathan and David. In 1 Samuel 18:1, the Bible says that Jonathan loved David “as his own soul” and that they formed a covenant friendship based on this.
Jesus said in John 15:13 that “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” While you don’t have to lay down your life to have a covenant friendship, it’s important that you exhibit that amount of godly love towards your friends in order to be a covenant friend.
As we age, our lives become more entrenched in certain types of routines. It can be difficult to maintain existing friendships let alone begin new ones. So how are seniors supposed to cultivate covenant friendships? It’s actually easier than you think.
Make God your priority. In all the communities under the Bethesda Senior Living Communities umbrella, we've created opportunities for residents to put God at the center of their lives if they choose to do so.
With opportunities for Bible study and fellowship available, you can regularly engage in the Word and worship. And when you put Him as number one, He ensures the right kinds of people are in your life so you have more opportunity to develop covenant relationships.
To some, this might seem redundant. Being honest is part of being godly, but this isn’t about your character. When it comes to covenant friendships, people need to know that you will give them the truth. You can be a good friend who doesn’t lie without giving the honest truth, so ensuring that you always provide what needs to be said or asked versus what they want to hear goes a long way. If you cultivate your ability to open up honestly and ask the right questions when a person comes to you as a friend, you’ll increase the bonds formed in your relationship.
In the story of David and Jonathan, Jonathan acted as a protector for David. He sought David out to warn him he was in danger. Jonathan even gave David the very clothes off his back. You don’t have to do that when you’re creating a covenant friendship, but you should be someone that people know they could count on if need be.
Covenant friends can be comforting and consoling to each other, even if they're simply offering to talk out a worry during a walk on the assisted living grounds or enjoying each other's company and a fun hobby together.
True covenant friendships can withstand time and distance. No matter how far away you might be from one another or how long it’s been since you last spoke, you can still speak to each other as if nothing has changed. But even more than that, a good covenant friend notices when their friend goes silent. If you notice you haven’t heard from a friend in a few days, or if something they do strikes you as out of the ordinary, seek out a private audience with them and ask them if they’re ok. Just as God seeks us for a relationship, so too should we seek out our covenant friends.