DEFINITION: Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people. It is a strong bond that exceeds a mere association with someone.
FACTS ABOUT FRIENDSHIP:
The two greatest commands in the Bible, upon which all others depend, are concerned with relationships: “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). Amazingly, the whole message of the Word of God is summarized in these two commandments–your relationship with God and others!
There are three basic types of relationships.
-A mentor friendship: This is a relationship in which you are the mentor and you disciple a friend in God’s Word and help them grow spiritually.
-A mentee friendship: In this relationship, you are the one being mentored by a godly friend who is helping you grow spiritually.
-A mutual friendship: Mutual friendships are when you are closely aligned with another person on the same spiritual level, and you minister to each other back and forth.
Do not be unequally yoked in friendship. The Bible says: “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). We are warned not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers in any type of relationship (2 Corinthians 6:16).
Christian friendships are based on Jesus Christ. That mutually significant factor provides a sound foundation upon which to build a friendship. He is the one who …” …has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” (Ephesians 2:14-16, NKJV).
Christian friends love one another unconditionally. When difficult times come in the relationship, they continue to love and accept one another despite faults and differences:
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” ( Proverbs 17:17).
Romans 15:7 indicates that you are to accept others as Christ accepts you–unconditionally.
Christian friends love sacrificially. They are not selfish, rather they give freely of their time, energies, and abilities to their friends: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus is the best example of a true Christian friend. His love for you is sacrificial, never selfish. He demonstrated this not only through miracles of salvation, healing, and deliverance, but also by the humble service of washing the disciples’ feet, and ultimately when He gave His life for you.
Christian friends do not use one another. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” By placing your friend’s needs before your own, you will gain a true friend.
Christian friends edify one another. “Edification” means to build another person up emotionally, spiritually, and physically. This is done by encouragement based upon God’s Word (1 Timothy 5:11).
Christian friends are honest with one another. Proverbs 27:6 indicates that “the wounds of a friend are faithful”–meaning that even when your friend says something difficult to you that is true, yet painful, they are being a faithful friend. Christian friends can be honest and confront one another when necessary without fearing loss of relationship.
Christian friends respect confidences. You are free to share anything with your friend, knowing that it will be kept in confidence.
Christian friendships are mutually rewarding. If you feel used, abused, or even smothered in a friendship, something is wrong. Seek to correct it if possible. If not, back off on the relationship.
Christian friends respect boundaries. Christian friends will never come between you and God or you and your spouse. They will respect boundaries you set in regards to time spent together and will recognize your need to develop other relationships.
DEALING WITH FRIENDSHIP:
Pray about your relationships. Ask God to bring new friends into your life that will be in harmony with His will and purpose for your life. Ask God for a mentor and ask Him to send people that you can mentor as well. Ask the Lord to show you any negative relationships you might need to sever–people who pull you down or back into the old life.
Frequent places where you can develop good friends. Excellent places to find friends is in Church, Bible studies, or prayer groups. If you develop a friend at a local bar, what kind of friend do you think it will be?
Take the initiative to make friends. The Bible says: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly” (Proverbs 18:24, NKJV).
Develop qualities in your life that foster good relationships. In Galatians 5:16-26 Paul contrasts the qualities of character that result in bad relationships with those that foster good relationships. Attitudes and actions that abort positive relationships are hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy. Positive relationships are supported by the Fruit of the Holy Spirit being manifested in your life: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Always remember–your friendship with God is most important. You cannot be a friend of the world and remain in intimate friendship with God. (James 4:4)
WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT FRIENDSHIP:
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. (Psalm 1:1)
A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.(Proverbs 12:26)
He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20)
A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends. (Proverbs 16:28)
He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. (Proverbs 17:9)
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Proverbs 17:17 )
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered,or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared. (Proverbs 22:24-25)
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. (Proverbs 27:6)
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel. Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father, and do not go to your brother’s house when disaster strikes you. (Proverbs 27:9-10)
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down,his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes. 4:9-12)
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7)
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”(1 Corinthians 6:14-18)
Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character. (1 Corinthians 15:33)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3)
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.” (James 2:23)
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4)
Do not be friends with:
-Gossips: Proverbs 20:19
-The bad tempered: Proverbs 22:24-25
-Those given to change: Proverbs 24:21-22
-Those given to drinking (addiction) and gluttony: Proverbs 23:20-21
-Liars, untrustworthy, and those who are inconsiderate: Proverbs 25:18-20
-Those given to violence: Proverbs 1:10-19
The types of friends to foster.
-Those who display wisdom: Proverbs 13:20
-Those who give wise counsel: Proverbs 27:9; 13:14
-Those who are comforting instead of dragging you down: Proverbs 17:17 Proverbs 18:24
Things to avoid in friendships.
-Repeating everything you hear: Proverbs 17:9; 26:20
-Senseless arguments: Proverbs 17:14; 26:21
-Overstaying your welcome: Proverbs 25:17
-Bad jokes at the expense of your friend: Proverbs 26:18-19
-Meddling in affairs that do not concern you: Proverbs 26:17
-Insincere flattery: Proverbs 27:14
Solving problems in friendships.
-Be slow to anger: Proverbs 16:7
-Be slow to respond: Proverbs 18:13
-Avoid quarreling: Proverbs 20:3
-Speak gently: Proverbs 15:1
-Speak briefly: Proverbs 10:29
-Be quick to show love: Proverbs 10:12
-When necessary, it is better to rebuke than to flatter: Proverbs 28:23.
The biblical emphasis on relationships is evident when we note the number of times the words “one another” occurs, particularly in Paul’s letters. We are commanded to:
-love one another: John 13:35
-be devoted to one another: Romans 12:10
-honor others above yourself: Romans 12:10
-live in harmony with one another: Romans 12:16
-comfort one another: 1 Thessalonians 4:18
-encourage one another: Hebrews 3:13
-stir up one another to love and good works: Hebrews 10:24
-show hospitality to one another: 1 Peter 4:9
-employ the gifts of God for the benefit of one another: 1 Peter 4:10
-clothe yourself with humility towards one another: 1 Peter 5:5
-pray for one another: James 5:16
-confess your faults to one another: James 5:16
-speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs: Ephesians 5:19
-submit to one another: Ephesians 5:21, 1 Peter 5:5
-consider others better than yourself: Philippians 2:3
-be concerned about the interests of others: Philippians 2:4
-bear with one another: Colossians 3:13
-teach one another: Colossians 3:16
-build up one another: Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11
-be likeminded towards one another: Romans 15:5
-accept one another unconditionally: Romans 15:7
-admonish one another: Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16
-care for one another: 1 Corinthians 12:25
-serve one another: Galatians 5:13
-bear one another’s burdens: Galatians 6:2
-forgive one another: Ephesians 4:2, 32; Colossians 3:13
-be patient with one another: Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13
-be kind and compassionate to one another: Ephesians 4:32