Are your friends helping or hindering your relationship with Christ?
In a world of loneliness and emptiness, building worthwhile friendships are important now more than ever. As Christians, it’s important to not just have friends in general, but that we are invested in Godly friendships. A Godly friend is someone who leads you towards Jesus. They walk with you on your faith journey, while also encouraging you to be the person God created you to be rather than the person they want us to be. Godly friendships are one of the most precious relationships you can build.
ARE FRIENDSHIPS A GIFT FROM GOD?
When looking at His beautiful creation, God saw Adam and said that it is not good for man to be alone. I have often used this as a marriage verse but I believe God created us to live in communities, to join together in relationships, and to support and love one another as we journey the ups and downs of life.
God knows that navigating this sinful world can be hard. He wants to provide us support systems that point the way to Him. He knows there will be great sorrow as the result of the fall and He wants us to not only walk with Him but also supply godly friendships to carry us through.
The Bible has a lot to say about godly friendships and why we should pursue them.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT FRIENDSHIPS
Friendships are important to living as God intended. It is important, however, to point out Scripture that helps us discern between good and negative types of friendships and how pursuing the wrong types of friends can pull us away from God.
Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul. Proverbs 22:24-25 NKJV
Friends influence us whether we want them to or not. If we often associate with angry people who lose their temper on a regular basis, we will learn bad habits from them. I find this also applies to speech. When we spend time with someone prone to gossip or swearing, we will also find ourselves losing control of our tongues.
Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
I’m sure we can all look back over our lives and see that when we were getting into trouble, we were rarely alone!
Here are a few ways to identify and build Godly friendships.
Friends Who Are in A Steady Relationship with Jesus and Scripture
To be a good friend starts with a good friendship with Jesus. It’s important that the people you choose to be friends with make Jesus their first priority. They build up their relationship with Jesus by reading the Bible, so that they are in tune with His life. They pray often, and also listen to His instruction. Finally, they are in healthy community, surrounding themselves with other people of faith, and living a life that demonstrates it. The Book of Proverbs tells us “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). You should be able to share your pains and wounds with your friends and know that they won’t turn against you like an enemy. Do you have tons of friends, but not many (or any) that you can really open up to and talk about life? You should be able to confide in your friends, and trust that they support you no matter your circumstances. The Bible also tells us “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Are you willing to lay down your life, as Jesus did, for the people you call friends? Your friendships should make your heart glad.
They Help You Grow In Your Relationship with Christ
Are your friends helping you to grow in your relationship with Christ. If they aren’t, you need to make sure you are strong enough to be a witness instead of continuing to not grow with Jesus. It’s important that you set boundaries in these types of friendships so that you are not separated from Him. You may have to even give up the relationship (or relationships) so that you keep Jesus your priority.
The people that you choose to be related to should help you grow in your relationship with Jesus.
Let God Bring Them to You
These friendships are usually a result of God placing them in your path. I encourage you to let God bring these people into your life and not force friendships. Forced friendships can lead you down a path of destruction. As lonely as it can seem, it is in your best interest to be alone than with people who bring no value to your life. There’s no reason to force a friendship with someone just for the sake of being in the company of others. If you are feeling alone, or broken, in time God will bring special people into your life. Pray on this God. God knows your every need.
They Shouldn’t Be Idols
An idol, by definition is anything that takes away from your devotion to God. When most people think about idolatry, the following things come to mind: money, career, activities, vehicles, celebrities, shopping, etc. Many people don’t think of friendship as it relates to idolatry, but as little as it’s discussed, your friends can become idols that you worship. While healthy and loving friendships are important, it’s also important that you don’t allow the devotion to your friendship (or friendships) to take priority over your relationship with Christ. The Bible tells us “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow to change” (James 1:17). We know from this reading that friendship is a blessing from God; however, our friends do not belong to us. Once you begin thirsting for Christ and intentionally seeking Him, you can begin to see this. If we are in a close relationship with God, when we experience the loss of a particular friendship, including feelings of sadness, anger, even regret, we see that the only relationship we need is one with Christ.
Know That Friends Are Imperfect
This goes back to the previous point around idolatry. It’s important that we see our friends as children of God, but also as imperfect human beings. While we can enjoy spending time with them, learn from them, and invest our love and time in them, we shouldn’t place these friends on a pedestal. When we do this, we are placing those friendships before and above God. A godly friendship thrives when you can see that person for who they truly are, and love one another without the pressures or demands of each person pretending to be who they are not. These friends will have flaws, and they may fall short even as it relates to your friendship, but you don’t look down on them because of them. You work through these issues by encouraging each other, and loving each other as Christ loved us.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD FRIEND ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE
Now that we’ve heard a couple of warnings about friends, let’s talk about choosing good friends! What is a godly friend? Look for these characteristics:
- They treat you well “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.” (Colossians 3:12)
- They help you through the hard times “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
- They pray for you “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
- They point you to Christ “but exhort one another daily.” (Hebrews 3:13)
- They do not expect something in return “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not [b]puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6)
- They are truly happy for you when you are rejoicing. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)
- They are good listeners. So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. (James 1:19)
- They forgive when you mess up. Forgiveness is a tough one! “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:13)
WHY DO WE NEED GODLY FRIENDS IN OUR LIFE
Now to the real meat of this post. Why do we need spiritual friends? What do they fulfill and how do they bring us closer to God?
WE NEED GODLY FRIENDS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY
Most of us do not like the idea of accountability but the truth is that we need it. We are not always strong enough to resist temptation nor do we always recognize it. At times we make poor choices or do not seek God’s will. That’s called being human.
A real friend will tell you when you are going off track. They will be kind, patient, and nonjudgmental because they want what is best for you.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Proverbs 27:6
GODLY ADVICE KEEPS US ON TRACK
Have your thoughts ever been muddled due to a troublesome situation and you couldn’t see left from right? These are the times we need to seek godly counsel from friends who care. They can see more clearly because they are not emotionally involved.
Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel. Proverbs 27:9
GODLY FRIENDS HELP US THROUGH THE DARK SEASONS
I said it earlier, life is hard and we will have seasons in life in which we need godly friendships to lean on. Whether we are talking about physical labor or emotional and spiritual support, a spiritual friend has your back.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
GODLY FRIENDS MAKE US BETTER PEOPLE
Spiritual friends make us better people. They guide us when we’ve gone off track, help us to make godly choices, teach us about ourselves, and keep us focused on Christ.
As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17
LAUGHING IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL
My friends make me laugh! Nothing relieves stress better than a long, chatty walk or a couple of hours at a coffee shop with my closest peeps. We laugh, cry, confess our fears, and encourage each other. Life is just better when you choose godly friends!
A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22
WE WERE NOT CREATED TO BE ALONE
I have a flock of chickens. These hens are as much a part of our family as our dog. They greet us in the morning and complain to us if they don’t have enough water. They hang out with me when I’m digging in the garden or flower beds waiting for me to toss them grubs. One thing you will notice about our feathered friends is they are always scratching around in the grass together. Rarely are they alone.
They keep an eye out for predators and help each other find the best places to feast. They were created to live in a community.
People are like that too. Our needs run a little deeper than instinct, but we were created to live in families, loving and supporting each other spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Godly friendships are families too.
A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17
ENCOURAGEMENT GOES BOTH WAYS
A true spiritual friendship will find you both encouraging each other. There is nothing one-sided about a godly friendship. You are both there to rejoice with each other and cry together.
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another. Hebrews 10:24-25
A TRUE FRIEND BRINGS YOU CLOSER TO GOD
“He is your friend that pushes you closer to God” -Abraham Kuyper
Many times, we have “friends” who are simply people we’ve known for many years or maybe grew up together. Unfortunately, they may not be on the same walk as you are as far as growing closer to God. Pursuing Godly friendship means spending more time investing in those relationships that do bring you closer to God.
In the end, a true friend brings you closer to God. They know when to lift you up and when to gently discourage you from making a poor choice. Their honesty and loyalty will keep them close.
PRAY FOR GODLY FRIENDSHIPS
Friendships are such an important part of living a healthy life. We were created to be in community with others and to do life together. Pray that God brings you more godly friendships!
Dear Lord, you know our needs better than we know ourselves. You know our desire to join together as one body in your name with godly friends. Friends that lift us up and encourage us, but more than that, friends that lead us closer to you. Bless our lives with your people and work in our hearts that we may also be the kind of godly friends others need. – Amen!
Remember that godly friendship are not only a gift, but also a blessing. When you enter into these kinds of relationships, you will grow in ways that you wouldn’t have otherwise. As you have someone else by your side walking with you towards the cross, your faith and relationship with God will transform. Any friendship less than this should be reconsidered.
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