After church on Sunday I was chatting with a friend about friendships. Friends are a big issue for us as women. Our friends and family are often the center of our world. They consume a majority of our time and attention. And that’s a good thing. God made us to be relational creatures.
But often, we are more passive than purposeful in our relationships. People drift in and out of our lives. We don’t usually pause to consider why we pursue one friendship and neglect another. Our feelings (such as having an emotional connection) often guide our friendships more than God’s Word.
As we make new plans for the New Year, it’s a great time to consider our relationships in light of Scripture, to develop, as my dad likes to say, “a theologically informed” approach to friendship.
Do our relationships—the friends we choose and the time we spend with them—bring glory to God?
“The righteous should choose his friends carefully” (Prov. 12:26, NKJV). Here are a few kinds of friends Scripture tells us we should choose:
Friends Who Sharpen
How would you describe your ideal friend? Is she lots of fun? Easy to be with? Loyal? Does she buy the same blouse or laugh at the same movie lines or cook the same food? All plus points to be sure.
But Scripture says the best kind of friend is someone who sharpens us as “iron sharpens iron,” (Prov. 27:17, NKJV), who “[stirs us] up…to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24).
We need at least one and preferably many friends who inspire us to serve, provoke us to love, help us to grow in godliness, correct us, encourage us, strengthen our faith, and spur us on to passion for the Savior.
Do you have friends who sharpen and stir you up?
Maybe you need to take a current friendship in a new direction, inviting a Christian friend to encourage you in the gospel or hold you accountable in your walk with the Lord.
Or maybe you need to make some godly friends. This may require a step or two outside the old comfort zone. But even if it’s a little awkward at first, we all need friends who sharpen us.
Friends Who Mentor
Biblical friendship should be educational. According to Titus 2, the older women are to teach the younger women “what is good”—that is, a lifestyle of love and commitment to home and family and to godly upright character, all in accord with sound doctrine.
Those of us who are younger should be studying and learning. We ought to doggedly pursue other women to teach us how to grow in godliness. And if we possess the teaching credentials of an older woman—proven character and a fruitful life—we should be teaching “what is good” to our younger friends.
So ask yourself: In my friendships am I learning and teaching “what is good”?
Friends Who Need Friends
It’s so easy to get comfortable with our close friends. But choosing our friends carefully means we must guard against selfishness and laziness. While life-long friends are a blessing from the Lord, we are also called to reach out to the new person, the lonely, the foreigner. “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers” (Heb 13:1-2).
Have you ever been “the new girl”? Remembering that uncomfortable feeling can motivate you to reach out to the new woman in your church. How can you show sisterly love to a woman who needs a friend? It can be as simple as introducing yourself to a visitor at church, inviting a quiet woman out for coffee, or inviting someone to come along with you and your friends. Let’s help new girls not feel new for very long.
Friends Who Need the Gospel
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders,” Paul tells us, “making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:5-6).
Often we get so comfortable with our Christian relationships that we neglect the priority of evangelism. But Scripture expects us to be having gospel-sowing conversations with non-Christians. We need to walk around campus, through our office cubicles, or to the mailbox on the lookout for friends who need the gospel. They are not that hard to find.
Biblical friendship isn’t all duty and no fun. The pleasures of friendship, among them companionship, comfort, and laughter, are all good gifts from God and flow from his character (Acts 14:17, 1 Tim. 6:17, James 1:17). God wants us to enjoy our friends! And when we choose friends carefully we will receive these blessings and many more.