Can you remember some of your earliest friendships? As a kid I lived near a swamp, and my friends and I would have a great time catching frogs and throwing rocks in the water. As a mom, I can’t imagine letting my kids do that, but we had a great time hanging out in brackish water, being bitten by millions of mosquitos!
What about you – what were some of your favourite friendships? Whether it was a sibling or a cousin, or someone from the neighbourhood, we all had at least one special friend that just made everything more fun.
As we grow older our friendships start to change. We are no longer just looking for the person who can laugh with us, but one who will cry with us as well. We need a friend who will walk with us through deep waters, fiery trials, and dark valleys.
Whether you are looking to find a friend or to be a friend the Bible has a lot to say about friendship. In honour of Best Friends Day 2016, here are 5 things that make a great friend:
1. Friends are loyal
“A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). It can be easy to think that God has written this verse to that person who has recently wronged you, but God has also written it for you and for me! When someone upsets you at the grocery store or in a café, the problem is temporary because you will likely never see them again. But what do we do with the person who sits across from us at work or beside us in the worship service? If there is a strain in your relationship, address it as quickly as possible. Ask for forgiveness if you have caused the offence, and offer forgiveness when it is asked of you.
2. Friends don’t gossip
“A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends” (Proverbs 16:28). A good friend won’t gossip about you or gossip to you. They know that your relationship is precious and wouldn’t do anything to risk harming it. And we are to respect the relationship enough to not gossip either!
3. Friends speak the truth
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:5–6). Our friends should not be afraid to challenge us when we make mistakes. If their love is genuine, they will speak the truth because they sincerely want God’s best for us. And if our love for them is genuine we will not fear their rebuke, because we know that they have shown themselves to be faithful friends.
4. Friends laugh and cry together
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). In Romans 12:4–5 we read that the church is one body and we belong to one another. Because we are one, we should empathize with the joys and sorrows of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Their hurts should be our wounds, and their celebrations our delight. As we share our lives with our friends, we must move past just having coffee and talking about the latest Netflix show. Don’t be afraid to weep together and show genuine care for the spiritual and emotional needs of one another.
5. Friends shape and sharpen one another
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). Those whom we choose as friends will have influence on us in some way because our companions help to shape our actions and attitudes. We might adopt new idioms, hang out with different people, try different foods, or read new books. Because we are shaped by our relationships we should seek to be sharpened by them. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man [or woman] sharpens another.” How are you being sharpened by your friendships? Are you talking about how God is at work in your life and seeking to honour Him in the way you speak? Are you exhorting each other with the Word and spurring one another on in your spiritual disciplines? Shaping can be easy, but sharpening is essential to the Christ-follower! Seek out friendships that are rooted in Christ so that you may be encouraged in your faith and be an encouragement to others.
I hope you take some time today to thank God for the friends He has placed in your life!
Candi Thorpe, Administration