‘Tis the season to be merry and on the weekend I went to a brilliant Christmas party at the house of friends. There was lots to drink, lots of wonderful people to talk to and the food was divine, but the hostess spent the entire party in the kitchen churning out hors d’oeuvres. People offered to help, but the hostess waved them away and kept on cooking. The man of the house was at the BBQ but managed to take breaks and have a drink with various friends. This couple is well-known for putting on a great Christmas party every year. It is something they want to do for their friends. The hostess organises and plans to spend the day in the kitchen preparing delicious food for her friends. It is the yearly gift she wants to give her social circle. It got me thinking about how we can give to our friends – how we can have generous hearts all year long.
Following is a list of gifts from the heart that we can give to friends.
1. Your time
The greatest gift you can give family and friends is your time. If you are a busy person you realise what a valuable commodity time is. You could offer a friend your time to mind their children. You could cook a meal and drop it off to someone who has been in hospital. You could take the time to visit an elderly relative who is socially isolated. You could spend time with a friend who is going through a difficult patch. Giving a friend time is a wonderful gift.
2. Do something you don’t want to do
You may have a friend who has an interest in country and western music and she can’t find anyone to accompany her to the concert of a country musician. Sometimes we just have to put up our hand up and suck it up! It may not be an activity we enjoy, but it’s a sacrifice we should all make from time to time for the sake of friendship.
3. Do something you don’t feel like doing
There is nothing more disappointing than having a friend pike on you at the last minute. For example a friend may have promised to see a film with you, but at the eleventh hour, calls to say that they are tired and would rather stay in and watch television. That is not the right thing to do. Sometimes you just have to find the energy to push on. A friend may visit and lament on everything that is wrong in their life, and you might not feel like asking them to stay for dinner but sometimes it’s just the right thing to do.
4. Offer to accompany them on a daunting task
I’m getting older and my friends are also ageing and the sad truth is that in the coming years some of us will face bad news at the doctor’s. If you have a friend or family member who has to face a difficult appointment – perhaps with a medical specialist, perhaps with a divorce lawyer – don’t make them go alone, offer to accompany your friend. Maybe they need to go to their first session of chemo therapy, be a friend and go along!
5. Sacrifice money
I don’t believe in lending friends money. A better option is to give them money if they are in need and you are in a position to give. In Acts 2:44-45 Paul writes that the believers “were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” If one had something that another needed, they didn’t think twice about sacrificing money or possessions.
6. Finding patience to listen
Sometimes people just need to ‘dump’. They need to talk about what is troubling them. The conversation may at times seem pointless and tedious but still you need to listen. Perhaps they need to lament that their ex-partner was a bad choice. You may have known the ex-partner was a bad choice from their first date (and held your tongue) but now you just need to sit and listen as they complain that their ex was a selfish, self-centred imbecile. Alternatively you may have to sit and listen about their failed business, hopeless family or rude neighbours.
7. Give your talents
If you are a web designer, you may be in a position to design the website of a friend’s business. If you are a lawyer you can do the conveyancing when your friend buys a house. If you are a dressmaker you can make outfits for friends. If you are a woodworker, then make them presents. Use what you are good at to bless others.
8. Make them feel special
As a friend, it is your job to make your best mates feel special on birthdays and wedding anniversaries and when they achieve at work. It is your job to organise the birthday cake at the restaurant for the birthday dinner. It is your job to buy a little gift when they excel at work, or to buy flowers after a relationship breakdown. It is your job to be thoughtful. This is what friendship is really about.
9. It is your job to deliver bad news
If your friend is drinking too much, has developed a dependency on prescription medication or is about to blow a great job because of reckless behaviour then it is your job to diplomatically and gently point out the error of their ways. You do not want to end the friendship but unfortunately you have to be cruel to be kind, but proceed with caution. Have other people noticed a problem? Speak to them first. Make sure that you tell your friend you are speaking with love and will always be there for them, but sometimes you just have to tell it straight.
10. Throw your plans away and arrange the day around someone in need
If you are a busy, organised-type of person then you probably have a pretty packed itinerary but if a friend needs you, you have no choice but to ditch your plans and just be there. And giving to others means giving with your whole heart and soul, it does not mean giving reluctantly and then secretly resenting the disruption to your day. Giving has to be done with no strings attached.
If you are fortunate enough to have good friends count your blessings and be happy that you can give to them. Remember what the Bible says, ‘It is more blessed to give than receive.’