What is your definition of a good friend? What characteristics contribute to friendship?
I like to use the following six Biblical ingredients to describe healthy practices and a framework for a committed relationship to develop and flourish. Let’s take a look.
First is acceptance, based on 1 Timothy 1:15-16. Since God accepts us as we are, we should take the other person exactly as he or she is. Accept each other for who we are, not based on our performance, accomplishments, strengths or weaknesses.
Second is devotion to serve one another based on Romans 12:10. Devotion = consistency, hard work and focus. Developing the relationships God has given us means serving one another.
Third is prayer based on Matthew 18:19 and Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. Prayer “nurtures” friendships in two areas: a) 2 people can experience all the gifts of God; and b) it’s hard to keep a grudge when you’re praying for someone.
Fourth is confession based on James 5:16. We confess to God for forgiveness, but the purpose of confession to one another is healing. Cultivating transparency in our friendships is emotionally healthy and provides a kind of barrier against sin. But confession requires a trust and follow-through which committed relationships provides best.
Fifth is submission and accountability based on Ephesians 5:21. Accountability to others is a sign of our dependency on one another. It is the opposite of rebellion and independence. We need accountable relationships to help us live disciplined and godly lives. If a person resists being accountable, this reflects pride and a secretiveness that is the breeding ground for sin. Submission is a mark of humility.
Sixth is encouragement and affirmation based on Hebrews 3:13. Encouragement is essential to any relationship. It’s something everyone needs to stay rooted in God’s truth about who we are and what God wants to do in our lives. Affirmation simply is telling others how and why they are important to God and us.
Genesis 2:18 declares man was not created to be “alone,” but is a social being. Scripture further indicates our relationships break down into 3 areas: first, to God; second to authority (parents, teachers, pastors, employers, etc.); and third to peers (friendships, romance).
If we are out of order in any of these areas, it will introduce defeat and hindrance into our life. Jesus wants to be Lord of all of our relationships as He works to get them right in our lives. One common area that needs help is in regard to one’s own parents. Honoring parents carries with it the promise of blessing (Deuteronomy 5:16). Mark 11:25 says if we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us. 1 Peter 3:7 states that if a man mistreats his wife, his prayers will be hindered.
John 13:34-35 says our love for one another is the evidence that we are followers of Jesus. Acts 2:42-47 describes that in the context of committed relationships we can give and receive God’s love. If Christians stay isolated, they block off a primary channel of God’s ministry to them. Live communally. How can you practice one of the six ingredients in your friendships?
Love is a verb,
©2016 by Mike Olejarz