What qualities is God looking for in a friend?
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Man’s best friend?” If you have, then you will realize that this phrase refers to the relationship between man and dog. Recently, I suffered the loss of a loyal and faithful dog named Schnitzel (AKA Snitty or Snitz). He was with me since his birth and lived for almost 14 years. He became ill very suddenly, so it was quite a shock when I came home one night to see his hind legs sliding on the floor and realized that he had no control over them. So, after some treatments, it was time to say goodbye. That was really tough and one of the saddest moments in my life. However, I was very grateful to God that this did not happen while I was away at the Feast of Tabernacles. Father gave me quality time with Schnitzel, and I got to say goodbye to my trusted pal.
Some readers who have never owned a pet or had a close relationship with one may find it difficult to understand the bond that I had. I have had several weeks now to think about why it can be so difficult to come to terms with losing an animal. After all, it’s not a child or another human being.
My best mate
Schnitzel was always there to greet me after a grueling day at work; he would jump up and down, wag his tail, and give me a friendly bark as I came through the door. His “welcome home!” was always enthusiastic and always genuine. He never complained about pain, what he was fed, or anything I did. He accepted the cat (Kitty Ralph) I brought home from the animal shelter even though I could see he was jealous at times so I had to give them equal attention. He was my shadow most of the time that I was at home. We did almost everything together, and he loved going for walks. During this last year we would go out for about 20 minutes; just a couple of times around the local park on the nice grass. Sometimes he would go to the car after just one circuit, indicating that he was tired. If I insisted on going again, he would just run after me without protest. He was totally obedient.
During the last year of his life, he no longer jumped up on the bed at night. He had trouble jumping onto the sofa sometimes and instead just lay quietly at my feet. His vision was cloudy and poor peripherally, his hearing was weak, and he had only a few teeth remaining. If he got under my feet in the kitchen sometimes I would accidentally tread on his paws but he would come instantly for a pat when I quickly said I was sorry. In his eyes I could do no wrong.
Some of my happiest memories consist of coming home from our regular walks when Kitty Ralph would leap out from behind a bush when Schnitzel and I walked up the drive. Then they would run back and forth in circles and figure eights, all the while with Kitty chasing Snitz. It was so amusing because it would happen exactly the same way every time. They would literally run themselves out of breath and pant like crazy while I would open the door, and off they would dash to the water dish. It would have been nice to capture this on video but I think one would most likely see only a blur of dark grey chasing a tan and white shape. What great pals they were.
I will always treasure these lovely memories. Animals do have personalities. They do feel love. They enjoy being touched. They respond to different tones in our voice, and even show that they are jealous. Animals give you so much joy and love, make you laugh so hard that you find yourself crying, and they can be so entertaining. In our house, we had to spell the words “walk” and “treat” so that Schnitzel wouldn’t get excited. If we talked about going for a walk later in the day, Snitz would think we were going straight away for that walk, or he looked in my hands for the treats. Snitty did not understand the concept of time.
Schnitzel was a good little watchdog, my protector, and the one that I could sit quietly with, without having to say much at all. It felt like he could sense my emotions and feelings and respond accordingly. If children had a fight or a loud argument in our house, Schnitzel would retreat very quietly into his basket in my room with his head slightly lowered and eyes looking everywhere without turning his head, almost like he was watchful but did not want to be noticed. Conversely, if I was laughing he would open his mouth wide and seemingly give a broad smile with his tongue sticking out as if he was indicating he wanted to join in all the fun. If he was going to the vet, he would shake and tremble all over and shed fur from the stress. If I was sad and crying, he would sit next to me and put his paw on my leg as if to tell me he cared. He was such a comfort to me.
Man’s best friend can provide so many benefits. In return, they don’t ask for much; just some food, water, and shelter, and they won’t say no to a walk but they won’t force you to take them out either.
Man’s relationship with animals
Sometimes I think we can learn so much from the animals God created, especially the domestic dog. In no way do I want to draw parallels equating animals to humans. My intent is to show that there are lessons to be learned from man’s best friend. Humans are God’s pinnacle of creation. In Genesis:1:26, God says that man (male and female) was created in His image and that man has control or dominion over all the animals He created. We are the caretakers of these animals in this present age of man. He does, however, expect us to be responsible caretakers. Proverbs:12:10 states, “A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
God intended for man to utilize animals for various purposes; transportation of people and goods, to warn of danger, to round up sheep and cattle, to chase and catch criminals, to detect harmful substances, and even to be our eyes if we are blind. Animals often fill the gap where no person wants to go. Clinical trials have actually proven that animals can therapeutically lower blood pressure in humans. Dogs work in many old age homes as “pet therapy” and can change very disturbing behaviors in the elderly in just a brief one-on-one session. The list could go on and on. Life would be very different without dogs.
Character qualities we all need
The qualities I would like to focus on are faithfulness, obedience, and loyalty. My dog showed me all of these traits day after day without ceasing.
If we consider, for instance, the quality of unconditional faithfulness, can we say that we have this character trait? Will we always remain faithful to our Maker, the Creator, the giver and sustainer of life? Do we buckle at the first sign of stress or temptation and just go with the flow? That would be the wrong thing to do but, during times of relative calm and peace like we have now, it’s easy to be faithful. However, when times get so bad (when there is no food or water), will we leave our Master for the Babylonian system? When the tribulation comes, we must be prepared to be faithful unto death. We must be ready to prove ourselves to Him in this way or we will not receive the crown of life (Revelation:2:10).
There is no greater example of obedience than that found in Philippians 2:8. Jesus Christ, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Talk about ultimate obedience. He gave all. He totally emptied Himself out completely. Can we do the same thing for God? Are we ready to obey with the price of our very life if need be? God tells us in Luke:9:23-27, through the words of Jesus Christ, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” God is referring here to our physical as well as our spiritual life.
Now we need to look at loyalty. What is loyalty? Loyalty is devoted attachment; complete support of our allegiance to God no matter if others try to sway us. Loyalty involves sacrifice. It is always willing, never reluctant. It also involves the truth. Will we remain always loyal to our Father, or will we become disloyal by putting ourselves first instead of doing the right thing when the opportunity arises? We are meant to be striving to become more and more like our elder brother Jesus Christ. He gave Himself willingly, making the ultimate sacrifice to show His Father complete obedience and loyalty.
God’s Best Friend
God has given His people a work to do in this age of man under Satan’s sway. How successfully are we, in God’s view, resisting the pulls on us? Jesus refers to us as His friends in John:15:14-15. Let’s show our Father just how much we all love Him by being His best friend through faithfulness, obedience, and loyalty no matter what the future holds.
If we ask God for His help to be faithful, loyal, and obedient, He will definitely supply the needs of His children. The Father wants to give us every good thing (Matthew:7:7-11). Our human nature struggles with faithfulness, loyalty, and obedience. That is why we need to ask. Do not try to do it all by your own determination. Get inspiration from reading about the faithful men and women of Hebrews 11, the faith chapter.
At the conclusion of the matter, will we hear the following words from our Creator: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew:25:23)? Remember, we can all do it because God will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews:13:5) and “…that he who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). We have been given the power of God’s Holy Spirit through baptism and the laying on of hands. We need to stir up His spirit today in order to transform our lives into being God’s best friend for eternity.
For more information on staying faithful to God, request our Bible study aid, You Can Have Living Faith .