Friendship is a holy venture. It is an opportunity for us to show and receive love in the same way that Christ loved us when He called us HIs friends.
John 15:15 says,
“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
After all, God in His very nature is relationship, three in one. This business of being in community and loving one another is His idea. It’s His way.
Yet so many times our friendships go astray. Either we fail to control our tongues when we’re together (we complain, grumble or gossip to everyone’s detriment), or we fail to choose wise friends who sharpen and encourage us, and so are pulled away from the daily, upward calling of God.
Or perhaps we sell friendships short simply by keeping them superficial. Rather than talking about the deep things of God, we stop at potty training and sippy cups.
Rather than letting wise, godly friends speak into our deepest struggles, we go no further than to ask their decorating advice or cooking tips.
I’ve been guilty of these “friendship shortcomings” throughout my life. But I’ve also experienced some incredibly rich and fruitful friendships. I am so grateful that God has put amazing women in my life! One of the most intentional things I’ve done along the way to make the shift from superficial to significant is to start an accountability group.
As I’ve grown to understand the eternal purpose and God-soaked potential of friendship, I’ve slowly learned to value and develop them accordingly. I’ve learned to serve friends, even if it’s hard to do. I’ve learned to talk about spiritual things often. I’ve learned to give glory to God and express trust in Him when recounting life’s troubles in conversations with my friends.
And I’m still learning.
Here are a few purposes of friendship that I see in scripture. I believe when we have a clear vision for the Biblical purpose behind our friendships, we will be better able to maximize their powerful potential in our lives.
4 Biblical Purposes of Friendship
1. Speak the truth in love
Friendship is a platform of trust through which we can speak and hear truth, rooted and expressed in love.
For the vast majority of my life, I have been the sweet, supportive friend who would never dream of questioning the way my Christian friends thought.
You see, I like everyone to be happy. And I don’t like to be uncomfortable. So I rationalize that it’s between them and God, which is sometimes the right conclusion.
However, as God has pushed me deeper spiritually, as He has opened my eyes to the eternal equation at play, I have been emboldened. Hopefully, I speak only with careful prayer, Holy Spirit guidance, and unmistakable love, but I have made myself willing to speak truth for the benefit of my friend.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:!5
I have seen God work in amazing ways as a newfound sense of urgency motivates me to challenge friends into a deeper way of living as God opens my eyes to see it in their lives.
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:5-6
2. Encourage one another in the life of faith
When we do this friendship thing the right way, we will sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). We will look different, better, and more Christ-like because of our friendship.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” Hebrews 10:24
Friendship is not about apathy or tolerance, it’s about refining and encouraging one another for the sake of the Kingdom.
3. To scoop us up when we need help
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says,
“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.”
We are better together. When one is weak, the other is strong. When one is in need the other steps in. Friends meet each others’ needs. When family is absent or unable, friends step in.
4. To follow Jesus’ example by laying down our lives for others
John 15:12-13, “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.”
Simply put, it is God’s will for us to rise up into all the fullness of love. The greatest commandments, the greatest purposes for our lives, are to love God and love each other.
We are to be like Jesus! This means we will be a neighbor to others. This means we will lay down our lives for others. We will show kindness and generosity and love –all the things that embody a friend.
In this way, God is glorified.
If you long for deep friendships but aren’t sure how to find these future besties, read “How to Make A Friend” for a bit more encouragement.