11 Biblical Principles for Becoming a Better Friend
- Kathy Howard Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2017 1 Mar
I’ve had lots of practice making friends. Over the last 33 years, our family has moved seven times for my husband’s job. Each time I left friends behind. Each time we settled into a new neighborhood with new neighbors. Each time we joined a new church with a new church family.
It didn’t take long to learn that if I wanted to enjoy meaningful, solid friendships I could not waste any time. I had to be intentional about making friends and I had to be a friend worth having.
Sadly, today’s fast-paced, shallow culture hinders the kind of friendships God desires us to have. Before we look at biblical principles for building and keeping friendships, let’s touch on a few things we’ll want to avoid.
3 Hindrances to Meaningful Friendships:
Busyness – Does it seem you never have time to enjoy long conversations with the friends you have now? Do weeks go by without seeing your local friends face-to-face? Honestly, most of us make time to do what we really want to do. If you think you are just too busy to foster deep friendships, try keeping a time long for a week to see just where your time goes. Perhaps you’re serving in some areas where God has not called you. Or maybe you’re allowing too many activities for your children to dictate your life. Purposefully build some margin into your life. Your friendships are vital to your emotional and spiritual well-being.
Fear of transparency – Although we cannot “go deep” with all our friends, we do need a few with whom we can share anything. We need people who can hear our hearts and understand. And we need friends who will hold us accountable when we are out of line. Yet, too often we are afraid to allow other people to know our flaws. We want them to think we have it all together. But we desperately need friends who will challenge us to be all God wants us to be. Yes, it can be scary, but test the waters. Choose one personal thing to share with a select friend and see how it goes!
Breadth of acquaintances - In our social media world, it’s easy to confuse quantity with depth. Thousands of shallow “friends” mask the lack of real, deep friendships. Let’s limit our time with our online friends and get out in the real world.
11 Biblical Principles for making and keeping real friends:
1. Take the initiative (Acts 18:1-4) – One of my closest, lifelong friends picked me to be her friend before I was really even aware of her. Janet and her family were new to our city, so when they joined our church she wanted to make friends. She introduced herself to me and immediately began to pursue a friendship. Janet taught me to take the initiative. Yes, it can be risky, but the rewards can be great!
2. Practice forgiveness (Colossians 3:13) – True friends don’t hold grudges or remember offenses. Instead they are flexible and quick to forgive. Contemplating God’s forgiveness can help us when we struggle to forgive others.
3. Guard your tongue (Proverbs 16:28, Ephesians 4:29) – Loose lips ruin many friendships. Careless words hurt feelings. Gossip fosters division. Confidences broken destroy trust. Before we speak, let’s pause to consider whether our words will tear down or build up.
4. Be a “good” friend (Ephesians 4:2-3) – Christ-like character fosters deep, long-lasting friendships. Qualities like humility, gentleness, patience, and endurance create a solid foundation on which to build life-long friendships.
5. Extend hospitality (1 Peter 4:9, Proverbs 25:17) – Sometimes we are quick to accept hospitality, but a little slower to give it. Let’s make time to not only invite our friends to our homes, but to also make them feel welcome. On the flip side, Proverbs 25:17 warns us against taking advantage of our friend’s hospitality.
6. Stay close in hard times (Proverbs 17:17, Proverbs 27:10, Romans 12:10) – A true friend remains loyal when trouble comes. Even if other “friends” fall away they stay devoted and help in any way possible.
7. Nurture them (Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 2:3-4, Romans 12:10) – Friendships will wither without a continual outpouring of time, attention, and resources. Let’s show our friends we care about their needs and their interests with purposeful acts of kindness and generosity. Our friendships will flourish.
8. Listen to them (James 1:19) – It takes lots of practice to keep our mouths closed and really hear what others are saying. But this habit is well worth developing. When others feel “heard” they feel valued.
11. Love them (John 13:34, John 15:3, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 1 John 4:7) – This is actually harder than we might think. God calls us to love our friends like Jesus loves us – not in mere words, but with intentional actions of love that may often cost us something.
Kathy Howard helps women live an unshakeable faith for life. The author of 7 books and a former “cultural Christian,” Kathy encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God through difficulties or ease by embracing real, authentic faith. Find out more and get free discipleship tools and leader helps at: www.kathyhoward.org.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: March 1, 2017