What Makes a Good Friend?
9 Characteristics


Free Sunday School Lessons

Note to the teacher: Before preparing this lesson, What Makes a Good Friend? please read our approach to planning a Sunday School Lesson.

This lesson has the same format as our lesson planning sheet.

In preparing your lesson, we suggest that you:

1. Print the lesson planning sheet.
2. Read the Bible passage.
3. Fill in your lesson planning sheet.

You will find it helpful to have a printed copy of the lesson planning sheet along side as you read the lesson. The progression will make more sense.

What Makes a Good Friend?

Bible Passage: Proverbs

The human need this passage meets is: To learn how to be a good friend

Learning Goals: By the end of this session, each learner should be able to. . .

(Know) Identify the qualities that Proverbs considers essential to being a good friend.

(Feel) Feel the need to be a better friend.

(Do) Identify one way he needs to be a better friend and one action step to improve.


Turn to the people around you and tell what you consider to be the #1 quality of what makes a good friend.

In one of Charles Schulz's comic strips "good ol' Charlie Brown" pays one of his frequent visits to Lucy's five-cent sidewalk psychiatric stand. With a look of complete dejection on his face, Charlie says to his would-be counselor, ". . .And so I can't help it. I feel lonely, depressed."

Lucy immediately jumps to the occasion with some needed encouragement for Charlie. "This is ridiculous!" she insists. "You should be ashamed of yourself, Charlie Brown! You've got the whole world to live in!" she continues. "There's beauty all around you! There are things to do. Great things to be accomplished! No man treads the earth alone! We are all together- one generation taking up where the other generation has left off!"

Slowly a smile spreads across Charlie's face as Lucy's words begin to sink in. "You're right, Lucy! You're right! You've made me see things differently, I realize now that I am part of the world. I am not alone. I have friends!"

Lucy quickly replies, "Name one!"


Everyone needs friends. It is the second most basic relationship in life. Jesus said that the two most important commandments are to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. We often experience God's love through the love of a friend. People usually don't care if they have a friend in Jesus until they see that they have a friend in us. Proverbs clearly tells us what makes a good friend - how to develop and maintain meaningful friendships.

Bible Input and Life Application

#1. What makes a good friend? Faithfulness. Friends do not desert each other when times are bad.

Proverbs 17:17 - A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 27:10 - Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father, and do not go to your brother's house when disaster strikes you - better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.

One of the greatest friendships in the Bible was that of David and Jonathan. When Jonathan's father, King Saul hated David so much that he wanted to kill him, Jonathan protected David. I Samuel 20:30-31 - Saul's anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, "You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don't I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established."

Then in verse 33, Saul hurled his spear at him (Jonathan) to kill him.

Even with the loss of his future kingship, his relationship with his father, and the potential loss of life, Jonathan remained loyal to David.

#2. What makes a good friend? Keeping confidences. Friends do not gossip.

Proverbs 16:28 - A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.

Proverbs 11:13 - A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.

As a friend you'll know details and secrets of your friend's life. Friends do not gossip. Gossip is telling detrimental things about another person to someone who is not a part of the problem or the solution.

Friends know when to tell someone else (such as in cases of abuse) and when to keep confidences.

Need to build trust in your relationships? Here are a couple short tips.

Trust in relationships takes time.
Meet informally to build relationship trust
#3. What makes a good friend? Kindness. Friends do not carry jokes or pranks too far.

Proverbs 26:18-19 - Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, "I was only joking!"

Fathers can help their children by teaching them the difference between a joke or harmless prank and going too far.

#4. What makes a good friend? Do not co-sign for each other. Friends encourage each other to live within their means.

Money is often been a cause of bitterness between close friends.

Proverbs 6:1-5 - My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have struck hands in pledge for another, if you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, then do this my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor's hands: Go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor! Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

Proverbs 17:18 - A man lacking in judgment strikes hands in pledge and puts up security for his neighbor.

When you co-sign, you accept responsibility for the debts of others. When you co-sign you are enabling your friend to buy something he cannot afford. The Bible calls that "putting up security" or being "surity."

When we were first married, we decided to buy a vacuum cleaner. Even though we had the money to buy it, the salesman told us that we could delay the payment for three months if we put it on credit. We thought that was a good idea. Why pay for it now if we can wait three months? The problem was that they wouldn't qualify us for the payment plan since we didn't have a credit history. Neither of us had ever had a credit card. The salesman suggested that we ask someone to co-sign the loan. So, we asked a Christian friend. Fortunately for us, he knew the teaching of Proverbs better than we did. He showed us these verses and refused to co-sign. We were grateful for the Biblical instruction and bought the vacuum cleaner with cash. Our friend knew what makes a good friend.

Often people pledge themselves to be responsible for their friend's debt. This is a recipe for disaster. Friendship is strained.

It is best to encourage your friends to buy only what they can afford. When someone wants something they can't afford, encourage them to save until they can buy it. If your friend is truly in need, it is better to give them a gift rather than to loan or co-sign.

#5. What makes a good friend? Generosity. Friends do not turn away when their friend is in need.

Proverbs 3:28 - Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow" - when you now have it with you.

We have all been given the same amount of time - 24 hours a day. Even with our busy lives, it amazes me how many people have time to give to their friends. When my wife was sick for a prolonged period of time many friends helped us. They brought in meals, did the ironing, ran errands and prayed for us. Many hours were given. Did they have nothing else to do? Were their days empty? I don't think so. These were acts of friendship.

#6. What makes a good friend? Forgiveness. Friends do not seek revenge.

Proverbs 24:29 - Do not say, "I'll do to him as he has done to me; I'll pay that man back for what he did."

Proverbs 20:22 - Do not say, "I'll pay you back for this wrong!" Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.

Our fallen human nature says, "Don't get mad - get even." Jesus says we must forgive - not 7 times, but 70 X 7. Other than Jesus, every friend is imperfect. We must be ready to forgive our friends, just like they have to forgive us.

#7. What makes a good friend? Bringing out the best in each other. Friends do not ask their friends to participate in sin. They look out for each other.

Proverbs 16:29 - A violent man entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good.

Proverbs 22:24 - Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.

On October 24, 2008 the Daily Mail (a British newspaper), stated that a female police constable appeared in court charged with burglary and misconduct in public office after she allegedly abused her position to help her friends commit crimes.

This 26-year-old woman is said to have passed on confidential information from police computer systems to boyfriend and others. She is also accused of helping a friend to steal thousands of pounds from a shop by listening to traffic on her police radio to warn him if police were on his tail.

As the saying goes, "With friends like this, who need enemies." This is not the behavior of true friends.

#8. What makes a good friend? Telling the truth - even if it is "bad news". Friends do not with-hold the truth in order to save the other person's feelings.

Proverbs 27:17 - As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:6 - Wounds from a friend can be trusted.

Proverbs 27:9 - The pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel.

A girl saw her friend doing something that was self-destructive. What would a friend do? If she confronted her or told her parents, it would certainly ruin their friendship.

A man saw a friend acting in a way that would probably destroy his family. What would a friend do? He said that he did nothing because he didn't want to lose the friendship.

True friends put the needs of a friend before their own need to keep the friendship.

We all need someone who will tell us the truth in a loving way. It is hard to grow without the help of our friends. It's never easy, but when you must tell someone the truth, use this approach: speak calmly, clearly, directly, honestly and respectfully. This is how Jesus would confront someone.

#9. What makes a good friend? Unselfishness. Friends look out for the interests of each other.

Proverbs 17:17 - A friend loves at all time.

Proverbs 18:1 - A unfriendly man pursues selfish ends.

On August 5, 1936, at the Berlin Olympic Stadium it was a little past nine in the evening. The pole vault event had lasted longer than expected.

The final three competitors were Earl Meadows of the United States and two close friends from Japan, Shuhei Nishida and Sueo Oe. Nishida had won a silver medal in the 1932 Los Angeles Games. The bar was at 14 feet 3 1/4 inches, which Earl Meadows cleared on his second try. Nishida and Oe missed all three attempts. The two Japanese continued to jump for second and third place, but the competition ended without a conclusion when it became too dark to continue.

"Oe and I went back to the Olympic Village certain we had tied, since we both jumped identical heights," Nishida remembered. (At that time they did not have another tie breaking rule.)

The officials decided to award the silver medal to Nishida. They never fully explained their reasoning. Oe was awarded the bronze. Nishida was not happy with the decision. When they got back to Japan both Oe and Nishida decided to cut their medals in half. Then they joined half of the silver medal with half of the bronze medal for each of them. The medals were called the Medals of Eternal Friendship.

Soon after Oe was killed in World War II. His medal is on display at the National Stadium in Tokyo. What an unselfish act on the part of a friend.

At the end of the day, what makes a good friend? Practicing the golden rule. Friends treat each other as they would like to be treated.

Jesus said, I have called you friends. John 15:15. How does Jesus treat us? That's our best example of what makes a good friend.

How can you be a good friend?

Read our favorite friendship quotes.

Discussion questions:

1. When you are looking for a friend, what quality is the most important to you?

2. Which quality of a friend from Proverbs do you tend to overlook? Has that ever been harmful to you or your friendships?

3. In what one way do you think you could be a better friend?

How to cultivate accountability in your small group.
4. What is one step you could take in order to be a better friend?

Author: Paul Schlieker www.bible-study-lesson-plans.com

Another Old Testament Bible study from Proverbs: Characteristics of a Good Leader.

Would you like to share Jesus with your friend? An excellent beginning is Bible Basics.
Its 6 short lessons are in full color with discussion questions. No previous Bible knowledge is assumed or required. If you can read it, you can lead it.

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Paul Schlieker, EzineArticles.com Platinum Author

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