When you think of the best friendships you’ve had in your life, what made them great? Was it the memories that made you laugh together? Maybe the hardships you endured together? Whatever it is that comes to mind, friends are a major part of our experience of life!
God created the idea of friendship and He wants us to enjoy it!
But if we are honest, we rarely look to God for advice on the kind of friends to seek out and the kind of friend we should seek to be.
I have been guilty of this. Before following Christ, I had some really good and some really painful friendships. I thought that having lots of friends meant that I was wanted and labeled me as valuable. But I was often lonely and hurt, regardless of how many friends I had.
In college, a friend shared the gospel with me and helped me understand that our world is broken by sin. I began to understand that sin had corrupted my previous friendships (my sin and others’).
When I surrendered control of my life to God my sophomore year, God started to teach me things about following Him, one of them being His design for friendships.
I learned that He wanted godly friendships to be a representation of the gospel – forgiving, gracious, sincere, loving, etc. He desired friendship to be based less on personality or popularity, and more on compassion and Christ’s love.
I want to acknowledge those that have been deeply hurt by friends in the past. You are not alone. I want to bring hope for the kind of friendships that God wants to provide!
Here are three characteristics that the Bible says are true of godly friendships. They are all things that we can look for in friends and seek to be as a friend.
A FRIEND LOVES AT ALL TIMES
Proverb 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
Love, as used in this verse, is a verb. It is shown in our actions. It’s not simply showing love when it is convenient, but at ALL times. This kind of love involves sacrifice. It calls us to put aside our selfish desires within friendship and seek the best interests of others.
A FRIEND SHARPENS
Proverb 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
A life of following Christ should sharpen the people we are around. This means to "improve or cause to improve."
Are your friends sharpening you by how they live their life? Do they challenge you to walk deeper with God? To treat others better? Or do they influence you away from these things?
What about your life? Are you sharpening others with how you live? Challenging others to love God and people better? Or are there things you need to change in order for that to be true?
A FRIEND SPEAKS TRUTH IN LOVE
Proverb 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
We need friends that tell us what we need to hear rather than just what we want to hear. When we know that a friends’ heart is grounded in God’s love, it should encourage us to receive correction or advice from them, even when it hurts. These things are often hard to hear, but if spoken in love we can trust their intention.
Friendship is something that everyone desires and our closest friends impact our life more than we realize. I heard a speaker once say, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future,” which I have seen to be very true.
Still to this day, my closest friends are not perfect, but they have taught me about God’s love and grace by how they treat me as a friend and point me to Jesus. It motivates me to be a friend that reflects that same love to others.
I encourage you to seek out people that embody these things and to evaluate in yourself which area you can grow in.
If you are reading this and this feel hopeless to find people like this, I encourage you to pray. Ask God to provide godly friends in your life that will love you, sharpen you, and speak truth to you.
These kinds of friendship are irreplaceable!
Discuss these questions with a friend or spiritual leader to help apply today's reading:
Who are your closest friends right now? Do they embody these characteristics?
Which one of these characteristics do you personally need to grow in the most?
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