But a true friend is there to watch you grow.
Let’s talk about “friendship”, specifically about friendships between women. Recently, a UCLA study confirmed what women have always known: we are hardwired for friendship. In addition to the typical "fight or flight" response to stress that all people have, research suggests that women have an alternative, a third choice "tend and befriend" response. In difficult times, women seek out other women.
Yet, friendship by any definition is on the decline. Just Google "friendship in the digital age" and see the thousands of commentaries worrying that our impersonal digital conversations are leaving us ever connected, yes, but also terribly lonely. We haven't just seen a decline in friendships- being in a friendship doesn’t carry any weight with us anymore. We use the word “friend” so carelessly now. Any person we have a few conversations with, work with, or “like” on Facebook we call “friend.” This isn't necessarily bad, but I believe we are losing the real meaning of Biblical friendship. Although technology can make our lives more convenient, counterfeit connections are one-dimensional, making the friendships so shallow. We can have "friends" on Facebook, email pen pals, chat room buddies, and text messaging conversations—but none of it is real communication. The words are there, but the deeper meaning and intimacy are lost
Jesus was all about connecting with real people. What if he would have "Facebooked" all the people He healed and set free instead of one on one interaction. On His wall you might see, “I am the way, the truth, the life….come to me, I will give you rest! You need living water? Just ask! “ Kinda loses the meaning, Huh? Jesus took time to stop and talk to people, to share with them. He didn’t mind being seen with them, Jesus' life was about people—up close and personal—genuine connection, not counterfeit connection. Technology is great, but overusing it can rob us of real relationships.
True Christian friends will build each other up emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Friends like to be together simply because it feels good. We give and receive strength, encouragement, and love. We talk, we cry, we listen. And at times, yes, we have to say the hard things our dear friend needs to hear. We may be the one person who can impact our friend's heart, because through the Holy Spirit, we know how to deliver the hard message with truth and grace. I believe this is what Proverbs 27:17 means when it says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
But if you don't have lots of close friends, don't be too hard on yourself. Remember, true Christian friendships are rare treasures. They take time to nurture, but in the process, we grow more Christlike.
Do you know how your “friends” are doing? How their hearts are? The spiritual condition of their soul? If you have no idea how your “friend” is doing in their walk with God, what they are going through, or the sins they struggling with, then you have a superficial acquaintance, not a friendship.
Maybe friendships are in low supply these days because of the cost of being a friend. What is the cost of friendship?
Friendship costs personal convenience
We like to think of friendship as hanging out and having fun, and that’s a part of it. But the test of our love comes when our friend wants to do something, or needs something from us, that isn’t so fun. That’s when we gotta be willing to put our personal wants and needs aside and value others as more important than ourselves. Phil. 2:4-5 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Maybe they are going through a rough season and they need us to listen. Or maybe they need us to do something hard. Friendship can be a personal inconvenience, but when we call someone friend it’s an “all-in”situation.
Friendship costs time and prayer
We are made for community. God clearly stated that it is not good for man to be alone. This was true before the fall of man in the garden and it is true today! But companionship takes time, you can’t expect a truly close friendship without putting in the time. Unless two or more are actually together it’s hard to know and serve one another. We gotta be intentional about investing our time into the people around us. God has brought them into our lives intentionally, we have to intentionally make time for them. Otherwise, life flies by in a whirlwind of activities and we miss out on the truly fulfilling things! So we have to make time for our friends, we also need to make time to pray for them! Friends pray for each other. If you don’t pray for them you are not a true friend. A hard word, isn’t it? Prayer is one of the means by which God acts. How can we not lift the people we say we love, up in prayer, interceding on their behalf for healing, wisdom, provision and holiness? Real friends don’t just pray once for each other, it’s a continual thing. They understand each other’s needs and then boldly approach the throne of Grace and plead for each other.
Friendship costs comfort.
Friendship is easy and fun when it is filled with laughter and everyone is singing Kumbaya around the campfire, but what happens when life comes against this friendship? What about when we disagree? How should we handle harsh words that were thoughtlessly spoken? Feeling hurt is a natural response and so is the temptation to become bitter and walk way, that is the easy and selfish response. True friendship forgives and seeks restoration and moves forward together. This is probably the most difficult part of being a true friend.
When we make the decision to become friends, we really don’t know what we are getting in to! We don’t know what burdens we may be assuming, what sacrifices we may be required to make or what sorrows may come to us through our new friend. We should choose our friends, thoughtfully, wisely, prayerfully—but when we have pledged our love, we should be faithful, whatever the cost!
Friendsip costs love
The more time we spend with our friends, the more we will know them and sin will make itself known. It will come out in our lives and in theirs. No matter what ugliness we find in our friends, we gotta just keep on loving. They WILL fail us! Sometimes they will seem inconsiderate, weak, selfish—just as they will sometimes find us. When God calls us to befriend one another, He calls us to love and forgive each other right in the midst of sin committed against each other. This price is so high that we can’t pay it on our own. We need to love eachother with the love of Christ!
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love one another deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Friendship costs intimacy At first we only see the good sides of our friends. But if this is all we see then we will have a very shallow friendship. Everyone has faults and failures, everyone deals with sin. Sin is the great equalizer and our common enemy. Friendship is designed for growth in godliness and this means helping each other identify and fight sin together.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
But to do this you need to know their heart and they need to know yours. There needs to be a willingness to open up our lives and hearts and let others see in. We need to share the good, the bad and the ugly. Intimacy must be a part of friendships, and it has to go both ways. I love to swim and often use swimming analogies. When it comes to swimming there two kinds of girls: The girl who sits on the side, trying to preserve her image by protecting her hair and makeup from splashes, and the girl who does a belly flop off the high dive and confidently steps out of the pool with her hair plastered to her head and mascara running down her face. If we want to go deeper in our friendships, we have to be willing to take a risk, jump in get our hair wet, and get real with each other.
A lot of times people already know your flaws and mistakes and if they don’t, after spending time with you they will. The problem happens when we try to hide our flaws. We wear masks, pretend to be perfect, and then tear down each other to feel better about ourselves. It’s time to take the mask off and let someone see you as you really are, in your mistakes and failures, with all your flaws. We have to be real, to expect deep relationships! Let’s be real and intentional!
Friendship is costly, but it is worth it. Friendship is a gift of God that he has first modeled for us in the gospel. Let’s not get caught up in the ways of the world, depending on technology to build friendships, Make the effort to build relationship, we were made to LOVE!