The greatest gift is the salvation given to us through our Lord Jesus Christ. But today, I want to write about the second greatest gift, and that is the gift of friendship. To me, the measure of a person does not lie in their wealth but in the number of people who call them friend.

We live in a world where a friend can be had by the click of a button on Facebook. I am not talking about that kind of friendship, but the kind of friend who will drop everything to come and stand beside you when you need them. That narrows down the list of the people you can really call your friends.

I used to serve at a church where we provided funeral services for those who had no one. The Bible says when you have done it unto the least of these, you do it unto Jesus (cf. Matt. 25:19). I thought this was a great way for us to be Jesus in our community. Many of the funerals we did were for those you would label as destitute.

One day, another pastor on staff performed one of those funerals. He was called during lunch hour to come back and be ready to preside over the funeral of a person who had lived most of their life homeless.

When the service began, a few acquaintances from the street showed up, but the auditorium was mostly empty. With no time to prepare, the pastor was handed the obituary as he walked up to the pulpit. He glanced down and saw that the first name of the deceased was Doris.

He began to talk a lot about Doris and how on this side of heaven, she didn’t have much in the way of worldly goods, but in her heart, she was a good woman. And the best news was that Jesus Christ had gone to prepare a place for her. He went on, telling the small crowd he knew they would miss her.

As was customary, he went down to stand beside the casket as the people filed by. When the lid was lifted, he glanced over at Doris only to find himself horrified. Doris was not a woman, but a man. Still, Doris had friends.

I don’t know why, but it seems I have lots of people who call me their friend. I know this because I get encouraging letters, emails and phone calls from them. They support what God has called me to do, and they get very little in return. I guess that’s what real friendship is all about; you give without expecting anything in return.

I want to wish those who call me their friend a Merry Christmas. To the sweet lady who sent me the joke book about grandparenting, I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

And to the missionary lady who lives in San Antonio, you blessed me with your testimony of what God has done through you and your husband. I know this will be your first Christmas without him, but I pray for the peace of God to fill your heart.

And to all of those I have met this year as I spoke at your church and you came and shared with this dyslexic, random abstract thinker that he wrote something that has touched your heart and either made you smile or cry, may your day be filled with joy.

And to Wilma, Chuck Norris’ mom, thank you for your prayers over this missionary. I want to wish a Merry Christmas to the gentleman who wrote me to say he and I had been on similar journeys, and we connected through these pages.

And to all of you who ask about Titus the Honorable and Cohen the Goodhearted, you bless me. Next to Jesus, there is nothing I love to talk about more than those two precious boys.

And if you say you don’t have a friend, I know one person who calls you that. His name is Jesus, and He wants to wish you a Merry Christmas. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).

I wish I could send you all a Christmas card, but instead, let me use this space to send you, my friend, a heartfelt “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” from Titus the Honorable, Cohen the Goodhearted and me. Blessings!