Friends play an important role in each of our lives. According to the Bible, friendship is a major cornerstone in the family of faith. The Bible has some significant advice and instructions about friendships, that can be seen through the glimpses of close and meaningful relationships between those like Ruth and Naomi, Jonathan and David, and Jesus and his disciples. In the bible, friendship is more than just companionship and support, but it has a much deeper spiritual meaning, allowing us to be our real and authentic selves in a safe environment, opening up our hearts and minds to our fellow man.
Aim for Good Quality Friendships
Friendships should be sought out, cultivated and nurtured; the Bible acknowledges that it is not easy to identify good quality, godly friendships. The book of Proverbs says “Do not befriend an angry person or associate with an easily provoked person”, illustrating that we should not be associated with someone who brings about trouble in our lives or encourages bad behavior. Instead, we should aim to build relationships with people who are equipping us with characteristics from the fruit of the spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23, such as kindness, gentleness, joy and peace.
Selflessness within Friendships
The Bible explicitly states the importance of being selfless and serving one another in friendships. In John 15:13, it conveys that “No greater love has someone than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”, meaning that as faithful believers, we should demonstrate love and sacrifice for our friends, even if it means putting our own needs second. This is exemplified in the story of Samuel, a young boy sent by his mother to serve the Lord in the temple. The Bible states that Hannah left him there, scheduling his annual visits to the temple with a friend to ensure that he had companionship and support.
Friendships Can Reflect Our Relationship with God
We are called to reflect the characteristics of God in our relationships with others, including our friendships. James 2:23 says that “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness”, demonstrating that through faith Abraham achieved the status of being accepted by God. Similarly, our human-to-human relationships can reflect this same power of faith and acceptance, allowing us to trust and support those around us despite our different views and values.
The Benefit of Visual Exemplification
The Bible offers pictures of friendships to help guide our behavior and encourage us to strive for meaningful and fulfilling relationships. For example, the friendship between David and Jonathan was a powerful display of commitment and loyalty to one another. In 1 Samuel 18:1-4, it is recorded that “Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself”, exemplifying the strength of loving one another unconditionally.
The Power of the Holy Spirit
The Bible shows us that when friendships are formed with the presence of God, our relationships can be enduring. In Acts 2:42-47, it notes that those who founded the first Christian church were devoted to each other’s company and their relationship was based on true intimacy and companionship, as well as being united in prayer and understanding. We learn that although there were challenges, the presence of God can act as a source of strength so that we form relationships that are purely devoted to each other and capable of conquering even the greatest of difficulties.
Pursue Friendships with Others Who Follow God
We should strive to form relationships with those of our own faith, as the Bible illuminates the strength of the community when it collectively follows a path taken by God. In 1 Corinthians 15:33 it states, “bad company corrupts good morals”, in an effort to warn us of the potential dangers of forming relationships with those whose beliefs are different to our own. We are called to be discerning and aware when interacting with those around us, in order to ensure that we form connections with like-minded people, who share the same value system.
Pray for Your Friendships
God can and does listen to us when it comes to our friendships, and he can help us to form strong connections with the people around us. When praying for our friendships, we should focus on the attitude and manner of our relationships, so that they reflect the true nature of God. In Philippians 4:6-7, it reads “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Through prayer, we can build faithful and meaningful relationships with those around us, and give thanks for the friends that are currently in our life.
Friends Can Spark Change
Friendships can act as a catalyst for change, sparking inspiration within us and leading us away from danger. In Proverbs 27:7 we are told “One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet”, suggesting that our friends can alter our outlooks and those who are closest to us can be the ones to challenge and catalyze the changes we need to make in order to live a fulfilling life.
Don’t Take Good Friends For Granted
The Bible calls on us to be grateful for the people who have accepted us, despite our imperfections. We are told to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess 5:18), and to never take the people that have dedicated their time to us for granted. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 we are warned of loneliness if we are disconnected from a supportive community, saying “two are better than one” and that “if either of them falls down, one can help the other up”.
Set Appropriate Digital Boundaries for Yourself
The Bible does not explicitly talk about digital boundaries but it does provide timeless wisdom about the importance of setting appropriate boundaries for ourselves. As such, we are encouraged to be aware of how our digital relationships are cultivating or corrupting us from a spiritual perspective. We need to be mindful that our digital friendship should be built on strong foundations and beneficial for learning, growth and understanding. Furthermore, through technology, we should protect our own values, preventing us from being coerced into conversations and relationships that would damage our character and our relationship with God.
Be Resilient in Your Friendships
Life can be difficult and friendships may prove to be both difficult and challenging at times. However, the Bible encourages us to be resilient in these times of adversity. In Proverbs 24:16 we can read, “for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again”. This scripture reminds us that we should never give up on our friendships and remain resilient in the face of challenge and difficulty. In spite of our differences and conflicts, we should always cling to the power of grace and forgiveness.
Think Carefully Before Gossiping
The Bible strongly condemns gossip, and this also reflects in our friendships. We should look to be supportive and encouraging to our friends, refraining from gossip even if it seems to serve our own self-interest. We ought to consider the consequences of our words and strive to think before we talk. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 16:28 that “A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates close friends”. We need to remember that words are powerful, and that even though we may feel like being close or ‘real’ with our friends, ultimately our opinions can hurt and deteriorate relationships.
Forge Friendships Through Transparency and Accountability
Pursuit of godly friendships requires transparency and accountability in order to ensure that our actions align with our intentions and beliefs. We are encouraged to be honest with our friends, allowing our trust for each other to grow and for each relationship to be firmly rooted in our faith. The Bible notes in Proverbs 27:6 that “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy”, reminding us that it is normal to have disagreements and challenges within our friendships but warns us to not be too careless in making promises that may be impossible to keep.
Love and Value Your Friendships
Friendships should be celebrated, treasured and embraced. The Bible encourages us to love our neighbors as ourselves and act in accordance with the Golden Rule, to treat others as we would want to be treated. Likewise, we should extend this same care and kindness to our friends, nurturing our relationships with respect and admiration for one another. The Bible speaks of the great value of true friendship in Ecclesiastes 4:9-11, concluding that “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up”.