Most of us enjoy the good friends we have made. Most of them look and act the same and have similar interests. We tend to struggle with making new friends who are different from us. What kind of friends are we? Are we open to being friends with people who look and think differently from our worldview? How can we become better friends?
By definition, a friend is a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts. It can be an acquaintance or someone with whom someone is allied in a struggle or cause; to be a comrade—the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
God shows us his desire to restore friendships throughout the Old and New Testaments.
- When Adam and Eve sinned, their relationship with God was severed. Because God desires a relationship with all He created, He extends grace and forgiveness to those who love and follow Him.
- Enoch and Noah both “walked with God”—a Hebrew expression of friendship. “This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (Gen. 6:9).
- Abraham was called “a friend of God” (Isaiah 41:8).
- Moses spoke with God “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Ex. 33:11).
In the New Testament, Jesus shows how He values friendship and sets an example for us as to what it means to be a friend.
- Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another” (John 15: 12-17).
Sadly, today’s fast-paced, shallow culture hinders the kind of friendships God desires us to experience. With the business of life, many of us do not nurture the relationships we have. Most people spend more time on social media than with friends; this is not God’s idea of building friendships. Others shy away from deep friendships because they do not want to be honest or transparent with their friend. Therefore their spiritual or personal growth is hindered. Friendship matters to God and is vital to emotional and spiritual well-being.
We can do many things to make and enrich our friendships.
- Take the initiative to make friends. Christians are guilty of staying in their holy huddles. Reach out to those whom God puts in your path. Invite someone to have coffee or lunch and get to know the story of their faith or their lack therein. Invite them to join your Bible study or friend group. The invitations need to be extended to believers and seekers as well.
- Be quick to forgive friends for their offenses toward you. Be quicker to ask forgiveness when you sin against anyone. Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you”.
- Practice humility, gentleness, patience, and endurance as they build life-long relationships.
- Stay close in the hard times. Be available to help in any way possible. Sometimes it means doing nothing more than just sitting with your struggling friend.
- Be a good listener. It takes lots of practice to keep our mouths closed and hear what others say. But this habit is well worth developing. When others feel “heard,” they feel valued. James 1:19, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,”
The Lord Jesus Christ is a true friend who made the ultimate sacrifice for His friends. He laid down His life for them. Being Jesus’ friend includes being His hands and feet. We, too, must think and live intentionally to love and befriend others sacrificially. That’s what friends do!
Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’