Her phone buzzed. She pressed the screen, watching as four words appeared.
"Hi. How are you?"
With a sigh, she stared down at the sentence. A million things popped into her mind. I'm tired. Ready to give up. No one sees, and no one cares. Instead, she put on her pretend attitude. Her perfectness. No one truly knew who she was because they didn't try to get to know her. Even her waiting "friend" was just wanting to spill out her own thoughts out about herself.
"I'm fine." It was what she expected after all. She couldn't be vulnerable. She couldn't let the "friend" see her weakness. Her pain. Her exhaustion.
I think most of us know the difference between a true friend and a "friend." There are people in our lives who truly care about us. Friends who want to hear our struggles, doubts, and fears. Friends who won't make fun of us for being weak but will encourage us and point us to God. But there are definitely others in our life who seem to walk alongside us without ever becoming that intimate friend. People who give quick, thoughtless answers. People who just don't care. They are along for the ride - as long as it remains easy and fun. If you go through a hard time, they might just fall off and disappear as they find another person to "hook up" with.
It's kind of like the modern view of marriage. Many people think that if their partner becomes "boring" or "uninteresting", they can drop them and find another. Divorces are skyrocketing because the world doesn't see a need for "till death do us part" relationships. We find someone we like, and if they do their part, we'll do ours. If not, we're gone!
Godly friendship is an important topic. We have to interact with people. That's just how life works. Sure, there are some individuals who really don't have any friends, but most likely you and I have at least a few. How can we relate to others in a God honoring way? What is my job as a friend? Is it better to have many friends or just a few intimate ones?
I am going to share my thoughts based off of some Bible verses I found on this topic. This blog post is actually more for me than for you all. I want to know what my relationship with others should look like. And where should we look other than the manual for Christian living?
Are friendships important?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 - "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."
John 15:12 - "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
Friendships are important. They are even Biblical! What would we do if we fell without someone to help us up? Taking this more into a modern sense, what do we do when we fail, feel miserable, and give up? A friend is someone who will take our hand, pull us back to our feet, and walk alongside us with his hand on our shoulder. Even Jesus had friends. He chose 12 disciples to accompany Him wherever He went. Was this only to encourage and teach them? Possibly, but I think that Jesus enjoyed having the company. People who could relate to Him. People He could pour into.
Does it really matter who our friends are?
Proverbs 12:26 - "The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray."
Proverbs 22:24-25 - "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."
1 Corinthians 15:33 - "Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits.'"
Having the wrong friends can be disastrous! There are many different physiological studies that show how people react differently based off of who they hang around. (and I did not enjoy my psychology class, so we won't go any further on that subject) Peer pressure is so normal that we don't even realize it.
If we befriend godly friends who point us to Jesus, we will likewise grow stronger in our faith. If we choose our companions to be unbelievers who accept sin as acceptable, our moral standards will likely drop, and we will find ourselves becoming more like them. A Chinese proverb says, "Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends whom we choose."
This definitely does not mean that we shouldn't befriend unbelievers! I am not meaning to imply that at all. We should be reaching out to and loving the lost so that we can encourage them to turn to Jesus. However, our best friends, the ones who we share our deepest secrets with, ask prayer from, and talk with the most, should be strong believers who share our passion for God. If our friends are any less, we might be in danger of losing focus.
How can I be a good friend?
Proverbs 17:9 - "He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends."
1 Corinthians 10:24 - "Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being."
1 Peter 4:8 - "And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins."
There are so many different aspects of how to be a good friend, but those verses share a few important reminders. First of all, we should not ignore sin (transgression). If we see a brother or sister in Christ who is living in sin, we need to confront them of it in love. Too often we think "maybe they will be upset at me" or "maybe God didn't convict them of it yet...He might bring someone else to do the job." This is a really touchy subject, and I don't have time to get into all of it. But one vital aspect of being a friend is being willing to lovingly bring up tough issues and talk through them. (of course, don't jump on every single fault and failure they might have...this has to be done with the right intentions and with the right heart.)
Secondly, if the person does make a mistake, don't keep bringing it up. Don't tease people about some imperfection they have. Realize that everyone is human. I make mistakes, and you make mistakes. Be kind, and don't repeat the matter.
Another aspect of being a good friend is seeking each other's well-being. Consider others as more important than yourself. Be willing to give time, prayer, and love to others. Selfish friends aren't friends at all. Thus, we need to realize that if we want to be a good friend, we need to take the time to invest in others.
Lastly, one of the most important aspects of being a friend is to have LOVE for one another. The definition of true love can be found in 1 Corinthians 13. I encourage you to at least read the list from verses 4-7. If you are a loving friend, you will be patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, etc.
These are just a few of the many important aspects of friendship. I'm sure I could write many more blog posts about this topic, but I hope this general overview proves to be helpful. We need to diligently examine our lives and see if the people we hang out with are the people we would want to be like.
I want my friendships to be like Jonathan and David's from 1 Samuel.
1 Samuel 18:1-3 "...the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him (David) that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul."
From such a simple beginning, two young men became fast friends. Though Jonathan's father plotted David's death, they remained true friends to the end. Jonathan saved his friend's life more than once. At one point, Jonathan's father was seeking David to kill him. Jonathan found David in the forest. This last time they saw each other on earth (at least the last time that was recorded in the Bible), Jonathan "strengthened his hand in God." During their darkest moments, they encouraged, prayed for, and loved one another. THAT is true friendship.
I'll close with one last verse, but this time from the Message Bible. =)
Proverbs 18:24 (The Message) - "Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family."
I encourage every believer to study their relationships with others. Are they God glorifying? Are they lifting you up in encouragement or tearing you down in sin?
Do you have a true friend like Jonathan was to David? What are your thoughts on friendships? Comment below!