The Lord challenged me in the area of friendship a while ago. Out of nowhere. I had no plans for studying the topic or investigating the Biblical model, but one morning before I was to spend an evening with a group of women I have come to love and adore, the Lord made it very clear that this is exactly what He wanted me to do.
I was surprised to find so many Scriptures! I have been in several Bible studies over the years that touched on friendship, but never in a thorough manner. Every verse I found had another verse to pursue and there were some that I had never thought of in the context of relationships.
I was encouraged as I read through them all ~ and convicted.
And the Lord has not let up on me since that day. I have a lot of work to do. I fail the Biblical model of a friend more times than I care to admit. And I constantly battle how much effort/time/attention I should give to those relationships when I am called first to be a wife and then a mother. It is much easier to be a friend sometimes. Friends understand you, empathize with you, encourage you, show you your weaknesses, laugh with you ... and you never have to discipline them, do their dishes, train their children, or run their errands. Sometimes it is just easy to be a friend.
But it can also be difficult. It means holding your tongue when you want to say something that is careless or petty. It means loving her in the moments when she is not attractive. It means saying the difficult thing even when you know she is going to draw back from you. It means sacrificing your needs or desires when she needs you to listen to her heart. And, it means you have to be willing to be completely transparent, trust her with your heart, and let the Lord use her to minister to you, even if it stings.
Friendship is one of the greatest joys in life.
It is a blessing that does not always come naturally. It is kind of like having a second spouse. You need to know her love language, what makes her tick, her strengths and weaknesses, and once you are fully aware of who this person is, no matter how different you may be, you have to decide if this is a person you are willing to fight for ... a person you will walk through life with, for better or worse ... a person you will love as Christ loves.
When you do this, when you choose to love a friend the way the Lord asks us to love, it will change your life forever. She will sharpen you. She will comfort you. She will bring you joy. And most importantly, she will push you to Christ. And that is exactly the way it should be ~ two women fighting to see who can push the other to Christ first. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
A Biblical model of friendship
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11
I Thessalonians 5:11
He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.
A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.
He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.
Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
I Peter 4:8
I Peter 4:8
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
I John 4:11,12
I John 4:11,12
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
II Timothy 4:2
II Timothy 4:2
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
~ When we leave one another, are we more in love with Christ? Encouraged? Did we spend time in the Word? Did we speak truth? Did we overlook offenses? Accept one another, flaws and all? Spur one another on towards love and good deeds?
~ Are we BETTER after being with one another? Do we walk away refreshed and renewed and with a desire to draw closer and more intimate? Or do we just walk away?