Worldly standards on friendship can hinder our ability to be a Godly friend. In our quest to become the “truest” friend, we often stretch our personal boundaries and limits to the point of breaking. The Bible offers a multitude of advice on friendship and why sacrificial love is key.
I have the worst habit of telling new, potential friends that I am a “bad” friend. I began believing this idea when I started comparing what my friendships looked like with other friendships.
Surely a good friend should be able to drop anything at a moment’s notice. Isn’t a true friend able to carry the other through any darkness with strength and perseverance? Aren’t you “supposed to” go shopping, do lunch dates, talk on the phone?
I figured, since I wasn’t able to follow through on these standards 100% of the time, it meant I was not a “good” friend.
Well, that’s a load of junk.
Friendship: The Honest Truth
In my experience, stereotypical norms discourage Godly friendships from thriving. The world standards of “girl-friends” doesn’t always align with my personality type. I am not one for getting excited about shopping dates. I sometimes cringe at the thought of play dates. Socializing leaves me feeling exhausted. Typically, I get heavy after long conversations. Not by the subject matter, but by over analyzing my words and interactions.
Most people cannot commit to answering the phone WHENEVER the call comes; work, sleep, and alone time are extremely important. Many of us can say that we will not ALWAYS make that coffee date; life happens and money is sometimes tight. We cannot ALWAYS keep it together while the other is going through a valley; pretending to have it all together is tiring, and quite frankly, insincere.
So, are these the reasons friendships go awry? Does lack of perfection cause us to feel guilt and give up?
Friendship: Where We Go Wrong
When thinking back on fizzled out friendships, I was surprised to find they were completely within my control. Instead of enriching relationships inside my own God-given strengths, I shook them off. I compared and belittled what I brought to the table.
Having a successful relationship, doesn’t usually fit into obvious standards. Feeding into the lie that we have to be like all the other friendships, is where we go wrong. God created us to be exactly who we are: unique. Thus, our friendships will be unique.
You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17, MSG
God ordains friendships knowing that each person has what the other needs. When we try to operate outside of this knowledge, we mess it all up. When we refuse to allow God’s love to fill in the empty spaces, our friendships die.
Friendship: What the Bible Says
The Bible emphasizes love as the greatest way to be a friend. When we come together IN love, TO love, we are committing our hearts to serving the Lord.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 Peter 4:8-9, NIV
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Romans 12:10-12, NIV
Jesus spoke the most significant advice on friendship…
This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you.
John 15:13-14, MSG
Friendship: The Promise
Jesus’ sacrifice gives us the greatest example of how to truly be a friend. Laying down our lives doesn’t necessarily mean our hearts stop. Sacrificing our lives looks like prayer. It looks like following through, being trustworthy, showing respect. Sacrificing ourselves resembles grace in the midst of pain; love in spite of selfishness. Love looks like 1 Corinthians 13.
I have come to terms with the fact that I will always be in a state of progress. I will never, ever be a “perfect” friend because I am not Jesus. Understanding and accepting these truths, has made me realize, I’m not a “bad” friend just because I’m not a “perfect” friend. I may not commit to every coffee date, phone call, or outing. But, I can promise, from the depths of my being, that I will love fiercely.
If we can become comfortable with who we are and what we have to offer, I believe we would see less broken relationships/friendships. Striving to love in friendship, honors God more than striving to do and be all the things.
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