In last week’s post we explored our intense, deep-seated longing to belong. As we delved into the issue, we discovered two very important things. First, this longing is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is part of God’s glorious design for those of us who bare His image. Secondly, we discovered that friendship among believers should look vastly different from the friendship we see lived out in our current culture. (If you missed last week’s post, you can read it HERE.)
At this point in our search, the question that remains to be answered is, “How is friendship among believers different?”
We’ve already mentioned that the essential difference between biblical friendship and the friendship of our culture is that biblical friendship is Christ-centered. That, of course, is important. But what exactly does it look like? In the day-to-day of life? How are two or more Christ-followers to relate to one another in friendship?
7 Traits of Biblical Friendship
God’s Holy Word is our Standard. It’s where we take our questions and search for our answers. Therefore, it should not surprise us that much can be learned about friendship in the pages of the Bible. Since we don’t have the space for an exhaustive study here today, we will limit our discussion to seven traits we find in Scripture.
1. Loving (John 13:34-35)
Jesus commands us to love one another. Easy words to say. Harder words to put into practice.
One way we can show love to our friends is to tell them what they mean to us. Be creative in looking for ways to express your feelings. Expressions come in many forms – words, acts of kindness, provision.
Loving acts don’t have to break the bank, but they should be communicated often. No one ever tires of hearing that they are loved, valued, and appreciated.
2. Trustworthy (Proverbs 17:9)
Proverbs 17:9 tells us that a true friend will keep their word, honor our privacy, and guard our confidences. This friend is a treasure. They can be counted on not to tell our embarrassing stories without our permission. Our name is safe on their lips.
Trustworthiness in a friend is huge. However, it is important to remember that we must take care in this area. Trusting too easily can lead to ruin. We would do well to follow Jesus’ example as modeled in His friendship with Peter, James, and John. Share complete trust with only a few loyal friends.
3. Loyal (Proverbs 17:17)
“A friend loves at all times.” That means they stick with you even in the hardest of times.
One example can be found in 1 Samuel 23:15-18. In this beautiful expression of loyalty, Jonathan (the son of the king) leaves the palace and goes to David in the wilderness. Notice, Jonathan rises and goes. He initiates.
Just imagine David – running for his very life, from the king, hiding in the wilderness – lifting his eyes and seeing Jonathan! How must that sight have lifted his heavy heart? The sight of someone he knew and trusted, someone who loved him and supported him, no matter what?
This type of loyalty makes the statement, “I’ve got your back,” come to life!Biblical Friendship is Christ-centered. It brings glory to God and good health to our soul. Click To Tweet
4. Vulnerable (2 Corinthians 6:11-12)
Biblical friendships provide a place for vulnerability – a place where we do not hide the realities of life but instead open our hearts in complete honesty.
This place of vulnerability leaves many uncomfortable. Exposure is risky. But here, in the safety of a biblical friendship, we are free to be totally honest – about our sin, brokenness, weakness, fears, and even the mess of our day-to-day life.
5. Exhorting (Hebrews 3:13)
We are being lied to… E-V-E-R-Y D-A-Y! Coming from places such as the world, our own flesh, and Satan, the lies take various forms – social media, advertising, music, and movies to name just a few.
A biblical friend understands this and sees exhortation as a high calling. Lovingly they speak truth into our life through such difficult things as admonition, advice, and correction.
The giving and receiving of exhortation are not always easy, but our soul needs it!
6. Encouraging (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
A true friend rejoices with us, spurs our growth, and allows the Holy Spirit to speak life and hope through them. Through written and spoken words of encouragement offered regularly, they show us that we are valuable to them. They say things that keep us believing.
7. Sharpening (Proverbs 27:17)
Bound together by our common faith in Jesus Christ, true friends work to sharpen one another. They help each other grow in all areas of life. Conversations with such a friend are refreshing and time spent together fills the soul.
Again, these seven traits are certainly not the only ones attributed to biblical friendship. For a little deeper dive and to discover several more traits, I encourage you to spend some time with Ephesians 4:17-32. As you read through the passage, highlight or make note of any traits of biblical friendship that you see. For a little added benefit, try sitting down a day or two later and writing those traits out in your own words. Ephesians 4:17-32 is quite the portrait of biblical friendship.
Christian women of all ages are racked by the stinging pangs of loneliness. We wonder why it seems so difficult to form genuine friendships even with those in our church, or if there will ever be anyone who accepts us just the way we are. We look around and ask ourselves if there is more to friendship than what we see around us. And we ask ourselves hard questions. What does biblical friendship look like? What are the expectations for such a friendship? How in the world can I get there?
In this six-week Bible study, Deborah inspires us to break free from the snares of loneliness and equips us to establish friendships the way God intended. We don’t have to settle for mediocre, superficial friendships, because we were created for so much more.