Tokens of Love by Brandon and Sheretta Taylor was one of my favourite reads from 2019! I really enjoyed journeying through the love stories of the Bible. I don’t usually read devotionals, but I’ve been blessed by the YouTube ministry of this couple and I wanted to read what God had put on their heart. Although I assumed it would be mainly relevant to couples, I needn’t have worried as the personal reflection questions gave me plenty of food for thought. I’d highly recommend the devotional which is available to purchase on their website or via Amazon. The focus of this blog is the main text from Day 23 which is honestly how I’d also love to describe my future husband.
“His mouth is most sweet, Yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!” (Song of Solomon 5:16)
One of my favourite questions to ask couples is why they chose each other. It’s sweet to see them get really shy, and give me a brief or detailed answer depending on how open they’re feeling. In verse 9, the daughters of Jerusalem ask the Shulamite woman what’s so special about her lover and she gives an incredibly beautiful response. Her love for him is palpable. Whilst her response is overwhelmingly in relation to his looks, in verse 16 she concludes with a quality that is more enduring: friendship.
Attraction isn’t everything.
Attraction is certainly very important, but what happens when looks fade? Although the Shulamite woman is enamoured by his appearance (and vice versa, see Song of Solomon 4:1-15), she also values their friendship. She doesn’t just like to look at him, she likes to be with him, too. A relationship that combines attraction and friendship will last far longer than one which consists of attraction alone. Whether you’re pursuing, or being pursued, don’t let attraction cloud your judgement. Are you friends first and foremost?
Although the criteria for friendship varies within and between people, the Bible is clear about how a true friend should behave. Of the 49 verses which mention the word friend, only a handful have explicit characteristics. For example, kindness (Job 6:14), reciprocity (Proverbs 18:24), honesty and influence (Proverbs 27:6,17). However, other characteristics are mentioned implicitly (e.g. patience – Jesus & Lazarus, John 11:1-44). Whilst it might be comforting to tell yourself that you and your significant other are friends, if their actions don’t align with what scripture describes as a true friend, then you are sadly mistaken.
Friendship should be a prerequisite for courtship.
It’s worth noting that friendship with the world (James 4:4) will distort your understanding of God’s expectations about friendship e.g. Friends With Benefits. In contrast, friendship with God will enable you to develop the qualities you need to be the best friend anyone could ask for. The importance of friendship prior to (and during) courtship cannot be overstated. Nurture the friendships around you in line with the biblical counsel in these verses and others… not for the sake of being in a relationship, but because those around you deserve the best of you.
- Study friendship – do you know what you’re lacking as a friend? Are you aware of how to fix it?
- Maintain boundaries – friendship is usually accompanied by disclosures which ultimately forge closeness. Maintaining boundaries will ensure that your friendship remains platonic (Guarding My Heart).
- Don’t rush – just because you’re friends and there’s mutual attraction doesn’t mean you should be together. Compatibility in other areas such as purpose (The ‘P’ Word) and yoking (When Reality Hits) is still important.
Friendship, in addition to attraction, is an important part of relationships. Skipping such a core element will prove detrimental.