I’ve always been pretty rubbish at making friends really. I can’t really remember how I did it at primary school, but at secondary school and college I pretty much followed people around until they accepted my presence and we became friends (or I just stole other people’s friends…).
Now I’m adult, I have no idea how you’re supposed to make friends, but I do know how important friendships are to our lives. And I think the Bible has a lot to say about our relationships with other people, including our friends.
So, what does the Bible say about friendship?
Choose your friends wisely
“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”Proverbs 12:26
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”Proverbs 13:20
“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.”Proverbs 22:24-25
“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.”1 Corinthians 15:33-34
Who we choose to be friends with is so important. These are people that we choose to spend our time with, take advice from, share personal parts of our lives with. These are the people that we allow to have influence over us – shaping who we are and how we spend our time. You always hear about someone who “got in with the wrong crowd”; and that is exactly why we need to be wise in choosing our friends. Bad friends can lead us into situations we don’t want to be a part of, can teach us bad ways, and can corrupt good character.
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”Proverbs 27:5-6
Honesty is such an important quality in a friend. A friend is the person that we trust to be honest with us when no one else will be. Friends should be able to criticise us, pull us up on our mistakes, and lead us back to where we want to be. We don’t need friends that pour unconditional praise and support upon us – this verse in Proverbs 27, tells us that the one that “multiplies kisses”, is actually an enemy.
Support each other
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”Galatians 6:2
I’ve mentioned several times previously that I don’t believe friends should give us unconditional support – in fact as we just looked at, they should be able to call us out in areas where we are making mistakes, rather than just blindly supporting our bad decisions. However, supporting our good decisions, and supporting us through difficult circumstances, is a big part of friendship. This support should be about building one another up, and carrying each other’s burdens, because “two are better than one”!
Love each other
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”Ephesians 4:32
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”John 15:9-14
It seems obvious, but friendship is about love. 1 Corinthians gives us some good guidance on what biblical love looks like, and I think these are great qualities to have within a friendship as well as within a romantic relationship. Friendship is also about forgiving each other and being compassionate. John 15 talks about love being laying your life down for your friends – would you be prepared to lay down your life for your friends?
Make each other better
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”Proverbs 27:17
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”Hebrews 10:24-25
This is possibly one of my favourite elements of friendship – when we are able to build each other up into better people. Good, Godly friends should push us to be better versions of ourselves. This could be through serving together, or studying the Bible together, or working together to stop certain habits, or holding each other accountable, or even just being a great example to each other.
Put each other first
“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.”Romans 12:10-11
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”Philippians 2:3-4
Putting each other first is something that I really think stands out against modern culture. Friendship shouldn’t be something that’s focused around you, and what you can gain from the friendship, but about focusing upon the needs of someone else. How could you put your friends needs above your own?
What other qualities do you think are important in a good friend?
Dear God, thank you for friendships and the blessings that our friends bring into our lives. Thank you that your word gives us guidance on our friendships, and how we can be really great friends to other people. Help us to understand what we see the Bible say about friendships and to follow the directions we find. Show us where we need to improve in how we treat our friends, and guide us towards good, godly friendships. Amen.
To see some more of my thoughts on how we can be great Christian friends, as well as some practical tips for ways to be a great friend, check out my new video: