Character Traits of the Spiritual Life: Friendliness

Character Traits of the Spiritual Life:

Friendliness

Richard Hollerman

This is a very practical virtue, one that will affect every relationship that you have.  Do people know you as a friendly, kind, amiable, and winsome person?  Friendly may be defined as “like a friend; kind; helpful . . . favorably disposed; inclined to approve, help, or support . . . not hostile or at variance; amicable.”[i]  It means “favorably disposed; not antagonistic” and warm; comforting.”[ii]  We are not here discussing the Greek word for “friend” (philos), but we are noting the common word in our everyday English language. 

When we say that a person is friendly, we mean that he is outgoing, that he greets us, that he wears a smile, and that he is interested in us and not just his own affairs.  We think of an amicable and kind person, one who is personable, when we think of someone’s “friendliness.”  We consider a friendly person as one who is warm, vulnerable, open, courteous, and thoughtful.

Many Christian virtues mentioned elsewhere in this website will combine to make you a friendly person.  You will be friendly if you manifest gentleness and kindness in your relationships.  You should express peace and joy and goodness.  You should be honest and sincere.  Keep from pride and boastfulness.  Manifest the traits of love that Paul discusses in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

With God’s help and the Spirit’s power, you should seek to be winsome and pleasant around people.  Think of their welfare and their needs.  Smile when you meet them and speak to them.  Sometimes I notice people when I am in public and it is amazing how many have a depressed, sad, cold, and mean look on their faces.

Determine now to smile and be friendly with people you meet—the cashier at the grocery store, the man who is pumping the gas near you, the girl who lives next door, the man at the office, the lady at school, and people in every other place.  To smile means “to look with favor or approval” or “to express cheerful acceptance or equanimity.”[iii]  I was in a foreign country last year and was told that people would not look at me in public and never smile.  I found that to be true, so I decided to wear a large smile and express genuine friendliness.  This sometimes resulted in their smile in return. 

It has been suggested that there are three types of smiles.  (1) An obedient smile: fulfilling the command to rejoice in all things, regardless of how I feel; (2) A ministry smile: Desiring to encourage the ones who have to look at my face; (3) A joyful smile: Expressing with my soul the joy of my spirit because of the work of God in my life. [iv] 

It should be remarked that we don’t always smile for our sake, but for the sake of others.  It is a way of blessing and serving others who are benefitted by our cheerful countenance.  It is a way of breaking down barriers and disarming those who may be inclined to hardness.  Through a smile we can bring a bit of cheer in someone’s dull or harried day.

When you are with someone, don’t monopolize the conversation, but inquire into their welfare.  Jesus said, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Luke 6:31; cf. Matthew 7:12).  He said that we are to love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). If we love others and treat them well, we will be friendly with them.  And perhaps your friendliness will be contagious!

If we do have this trait of friendliness, we will be able to show others the love of God.  And with this demonstration of genuine love, we may be able to point them to the Lord Jesus, who longs to save them and eternally bless them.

 



[i] Random House Webster’s College Dictionary.

[ii] The American Heritage College Dictionary.

[iii] The American Heritage College Dictionary.

[iv] The Power for True Success, p. 121.

 

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