Friendship is the sweetest part of life, but it can also be the source of the most drama and heartache. As a student pastor, I hear firsthand accounts of how messy relationships can get, and I struggle more with maintaining friendships now than I did as a teenager. Since we’re all human, and we’re all imperfect, I thought I would share a few scriptures and words of wisdom that have helped me make friends and be a friend.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”
I love this verse, because it reminds me that friendship is designed by God. Jesus had friends, so I probably should too. No one was meant to walk through life alone, and fellowship is a major part of living abundantly. I know how hard it is to find people who make you better, and I know socializing can fall to the bottom of your priorities when life gets busy. Tim and I were married for a year before we found other Christian, 20-something, church loving couples, and the months of loneliness beforehand made me appreciate those friends so much more than I would have otherwise. It’s a blessing to have one friend who sharpens you, much less a whole group. If you’re a believer, you need to have someone you can trust, get advice from, and laugh with.
You can also be someone’s friend without condoning their decisions. Love is not the same as approval. It’s good to walk through life with people who don’t look, act, or sound like you, because their experiences and backgrounds can enhance your worldview. Try to have friends who help you celebrate diversity, not friends who drag you into bad choices.
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Friendship isn’t a business transaction. Love your friends without expecting anything in return. Every human being in your life will let you down, so don’t be surprised when a friend betrays, disappoints, or offends you. Friendships are strengthened over time, and no relationship endures without some struggle. If someone hurts your feelings, you can choose to tell them and work through it, or you can choose to get over it and move forward. Listen, there’s a big difference between someone who needs forgiveness and someone who needs distance. If you’re close to someone who continuously insults, patronizes, or tempts you, you may have to love them from afar. Pray for, respect, and honor them, but don’t spend time in settings where they can attack you. Your close friends should encourage rather than discourage.
At the end of the day, only you can decide who will be part of your inner circle. You’re called to love everyone, but not everyone deserves access into your private life. As a pastor’s wife, I’ve learned that I’m not called to “trust” people, I’m called to “love” people. It’s good to have brothers and sisters in Christ who will be on your doorstep rain or shine, but it’s best to go to the Father for satisfaction. When you stop looking at people for what they can give you, you’ll be free to love in bigger and better ways. God is the only One who will never let you down, and He’s made you to love the unlovable. Forgiveness is the fuel of friendship. We were all unlovable before Christ laid down His life for us, and we are only redeemed because of Him. Give grace, guard your heart, and love selflessly. That’s the key to friendship.