I believe it can be said without fear of contradiction that there are three important relationships in life. These are those with God, your family, and friends. A friendless person is a very miserable person, but one with friends is blessed. For as Proverbs 18:24 teaches, some friends will stick closer than family. Indeed, friendship is vital to the Christian life.
One with friends is blessed.
The Bible isn’t short of examples of great friendships: David and Jonathan who loved each other as their own souls (1 Samuel 18:1); Ruth and Naomi, who showed each other true love (Ruth 1:16-17), Paul and Timothy who were like a father and a son (1 Corinthians 4:17); and even Jesus and John, with the latter being described as the one whom Jesus loved (John 13:23).
The great African theologian, St Augustine captured very well the value of friendship, writing: “My greatest comfort and relief is in the consolation of friends. Friendship has joys that captivate my heart—the charms of talking and laughing together and kindly giving way to each other’s wishes, reading elegantly written books together, sharing jokes and delighting to honour one another.” While good friends are an important part of our lives, many will agree that it isn’t easy to create and then cultivate Christian friendship. In this post I would like to consider five things that could help us develop and maintain good and godly friendships.
1. Pray that God Blesses You with Friends
Firstly, since all good gifts come from the Lord, it is important to pray that God will grant us good and godly friends. In these days of social media, it is very easy to assume that we have friends owing to our social media likes and followers. However, a true friend does not come so easily. To have one requires prayer and work on our part.
2. Prioritise Friendship in the Day-to-Day
Next, be willing to invest in the friendship. A healthy friendship will require sacrificing time and resources. No single friendship grows without cultivating it. Therefore, do not get too busy for your friends.
Don’t get too busy for your friends.
Be willing to forgo some things to be with your friends and help them when they are in need. Other times, in addition to phone calls or texts, it will mean getting together and talking. This is important because communication is the heart beat of all relationship, not only Christian friendships. Friends who cease to communicate regularly will sooner or later drift apart.
3. Be Honest and Trustworthy
Thirdly, avoid betrayal of trust as it will poison your friendship to death. In order for two people to grow in their friendship, they must grow in their trust for each other. They will share and reveal their weaknesses, needs, and flaws to each other.
Prove to be a trustworthy friend by not revealing what your friend has confided in you.
Prove to be a trustworthy friend by not gossiping or revealing what your friend has confided in you. Also don’t believe every rumor about your friend. Gossip or slander can kill friendship; therefore, as love believes all things (1 Corinthians 13:7), we should always believe the best of our friend unless there is clear evidence to prove otherwise.
4. Share Your Faith with Each Other
Fourth, set aside some special times to pray together as friends. One of the major goals in Christian friendship should be to spur each other toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). Prayer is one of the means of grace to help Christian friends achieve this goal. So, take prayer retreats together and pray for and with each other.
A major goal in Christian friendship should be to spur each other toward love and good deeds.
The Puritan Richard Baxter put it well in his book, The Christian Directory: “It is a mercy to have so near a friend to be a helper to your soul; to join with you in prayer and other holy exercises; to watch over you and tell you of your sins and dangers, and to stir up in you the grace of God.”
5. Be Realistic, Because We’re All Sinners
Even the best of friends will fail each other at times.
Finally, never expect perfect friends in this world. This might sound like a no brainer. However, we must never forget this. It is so easy to expect too much from our friends, but the reality is that even the best of friends will fail each other at times. Certainly, it will not be intentional or necessarily a betrayal of trust, but just because they are sinners like us.
Therefore, we should be quick to forgive just as Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). Furthermore, our friend’s failure should be a reminder for us to constantly look to Christ as the ultimate and true friend. He never fails.
All of Us Need Friends
The world can be a dark and lonely place. However, God’s gift of friendship is meant to brighten and encourage us. So may we nurture and treasure true and godly friendship. May we constantly pray to have that friend who loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17).