How do you define what a friend is? In our age with social media, I think the definition can be a little murky. According to Facebook, I have – friends. On Instagram we can measure our friendships or likeability through likes and on Twitter, retweets.
This is where it gets difficult, though. Most of these people don’t know my life. They know what I show them through the screens in our hands. I’m not saying it’s not nice to have “friends” on social media, but I am saying that true friends aren’t just the ones that validate us through liking the public stuff.
Friendship is a gift from God. And like many of God’s gifts, we must steward them. I want to appreciate the gifts He has given me as a reflection of His glory and His love for me. The question is, what are the traits of a true biblical friendship so that we can live them out, recognize them, and steward them?
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
Friendships are built on loving Christ and loving one another like Christ. They are made for our times of hardship, our times of heartache, and our seasons of struggle just as much as they are for happiness, celebrations, and milestones.
“Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:13 NLT)
In any friendship, there is bound to be hurt because we are imperfect people. Find the friends that forgive you when you do them wrong and who’s hearts make them worth forgiving when they wrong you.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
“There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24 NLT)
Again, friendships should be for the long haul and through the tough stuff. We need to be reliable and consistent in each other’s lives. Friendships are a job, but one that should be worthwhile. We should be on call.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
Yes, caring for ourselves and prioritizing ourselves is important, but if we put ourselves as number one all the time, we are already missing the point. Loving God and giving Him glory is the number one priority and purpose of our lives. Loving His people like He would is number two. While that includes ourselves, respect for one another comes out of our willingness to sacrifice comfort and selfishness for the benefit of those we love.
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV)
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)
True biblical friendships are supposed to make us look more like Christ. This means that we encourage one another, hold each other accountable, have hard conversations, and walk with each other through the race of life with Christ at the center. Who we are friends with matters to our walk and to our characters. Who we are as friends matters, too.
True friendships are a gift from God. They are going to take work, they are going to take sacrifices, and they are going to be hard, like most relationships. But they are worth it.
Why does God give us these sweet gifts? Because He is the greatest friend we could ask for, our truest friend.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends,” (John 15:13).