Read His Words Before Ours!
Sadly, we in the church today oftentimes have a wrong view of friendship. I hear sentiments like the following all the time (and perhaps they will sound familiar to you as well):
I’m too busy to cultivate friendship.
Did you hear what she did? Did you hear what he said to her?
That person hurt me, and I have had enough. I’m cutting my friendship ties with her.
I’ll pursue friendship when I’m in a less busy season.
Spending time with mom friends is too hard and impractical in this season of raising littles.
Friend, may I gently remind all of us, myself included, that the Lord has never once viewed friendship as optional or as something we can safely let go of, refuse to pursue, or not take seriously?
“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.
For if either falls, his companion can lift him up;
but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.
Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him.
A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
Biblical friendship was intended by God to fortify, sustain, encourage, sharpen, grow, and equip us in our daily walk with Christ. We see a beautiful example of this in the story of Naomi and Ruth, a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law who were also dear friends. Following the death of their husbands, widows Naomi and Ruth faced seemingly impossible challenges and yet, through their friendship and commitment to each other and their mutual faith in God, were able to overcome them.
Ruth gives us a beautiful picture of their friendship in Ruth 1:16-17 when she says to Naomi, “Wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live;
your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.
Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.
May the Lord punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
This is what the winsome institution of friendship is designed to be, a captivating fragrance and picture of Christ and His love for His people. Our friendships are to be the kind of relationships wherein we present the watching world with an example of what it looks like to love each other with the unconditional love of Christ. In these friendships, we are to create a place of safety where others can share thoughts and feelings without fear of harsh or critical judgement. We were designed to walk alongside, carrying one another’s burdens, rejoice with one another’s victories, and intentionally investing in one another, and pointing each other to Christ all along the way.
We are not too busy for friendship.
Rather, the responsibilities on our shoulders are too cumbersome to not have friends to walk along the journey with us. Frankly, the stakes are too high for us to live outside biblical community, only feigning at true friendship.
This type of solid, Christian friendship is not easy to cultivate.
I have learned this myself in deeply personal ways over the past year as I experienced a friendship be nearly destroyed as a result of gossip, judgment, and legalistic expectations. Another friendship has become challenging as narcissism has been brought into the mix.
It’s been a rough year for my friendships.
Yet, far from throwing in the towel, I am inspired by the passages above to pursue the ministry of reconciliation and extend the love and grace that covers a multitude of sins. While boundaries are important in relationships, and sometimes friendships with unsafe people must come to an end, these instances are oftentimes fewer and further between than we think in this age of un-forgiveness and criticism.
I don’t know what your friendship experiences have looked like thus far, dear reader, but I do know this: the Lord desires for you to enjoy friendships throughout life that will inspire and encourage you in your relationship with Him.
He wants to see your faith strengthened, your heart sustained,
and your mind invigorated through these friendships,
and He wants the watching world to be pointed to Him when it sees you and your friends.
Yes, it’s a high challenge to intentionally cultivate friendships like these, and they sometimes take years to deepen to this level, but it is worth the work and investment!
I can honestly say I would not be the woman I am today,
with my faith in Christ matured to the point that it is,
or my heart encouraged and invigorated to joyfully follow Him as I am,
if it weren’t for the dear friends in my life who are more like family to me now.
After years of intentionally and regularly pouring into them (and vice versa!),
it is resoundingly worth it!
You may have been burned in the past.
You may find yourself with a seemingly lack of time in the present.
Your future may be uncertain.
All the more reason to invest in friendships and begin building biblical community!
Pray and ask the Lord to send godly Christian friends your way.
That is a prayer He delights in answering!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!