It’s been a weird season for friendships, hasn’t it?
We’ve spent much less time with each other in person and our online relationships seem to be burdened by the overshadowing of divisive views and opinions being tossed in the air like confetti.
It’s funny! Some friendships seem effortless and last a lifetime and others crash and burn even though we give them everything we’ve got to give.
We learn about ourselves and others through our friendships, don’t we?
I have to admit, that I’ve wondered lately if social media doesn’t give us a distorted view of means to be a great friend.
Online, friendships come and go with a click of a button.
And they’re easy, right? Where else can you and I keep up with hundreds of friendships without ever leaving the house?
But unfortunately, it can seem like online quantity is more highly rated than quality and appearances are more important than authenticity. And I wonder if deep down we don’t long for greater real honest friendships.
God made us to live in community. He created us to share a closeness … and with His help, we can be great friends in person and online.
So I want to take a couple of minutes take a closer look at friendship. Maybe we can be encouraged toward having the great friendships we all need and want.
What exactly is a friend anyway?
A friend is defined as:
- A person attached to another by feelings of affection.
- A person whom you know, like, and trust.
- A person with whom you enjoy spending time.
A great friend is someone who:
- Wants what is best for you.
- Shows empathy and sympathy, compassion, and understanding.
- Allows individuality without fear of judgment.
- Understands balance and the importance of give-and-take.
Important characteristics of a great friend:
- They take time to develop.
- Are based on honesty and trust.
- Reflect kindness, compassion, and caring.
- Are not selfish.
- Protects the privacy of your story.
- Encourages your goals and dreams.
- _______________ (What would you add?)
Bible Verses that Define Friendship:
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. Proverbs 17:17
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 1 John 4:11
Just as damaging as a madman shooting a deadly weapon is someone who lies to a friend and then says, “I was only joking.” Proverbs 26:18-19 (honest)
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Colossians 3:13
Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Romans 12:15–16
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17
Wow, wouldn’t it be amazing if all our friendships looked like that!
The truth is…
A great friend values we over me.
I want to know how well I’m doing, so here are some questions I’m asking myself:
- Am I always gently and respectfully honest with my friends? Are they honest with me?
- Do I quickly forgive a friend’s flaws? Do they forgive me?
- Do I talk about my friend’s problems to others? Do they talk about me?
- Am I quick to help and encourage a friend? Are they helpful and encouraging?
- Have we invited God into our friendship?
- Am I willing to make some necessary changes to enjoy the blessing of great friendship? What will that mean?
To help, I’ve come up with 10 important qualities needed in every friendship.
10 Things You Can Do that will Make You a Great Friend
1. Do Be an Encourager, not a Flatterer
Flattery is just sugar-coated manipulation and no matter how sweetly it’s presented manipulation is selfish and unloving. Encouragement is love in words and action. Go ahead … give compliments generously – but do it for them and be sincere!
So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
2. Do Be Understanding and Helpful
Sometimes all it takes is a listening ear or a caring note. Other times it may be providing a meal or sitting in a hospital waiting room. Whatever it is . . . as much as it is possible, friends help each other.
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Galatians 6:2–3 (MSG)
3. Do Be Honest
Trust is an important and essential part of any close relationship. Lies destroy trust. So tell the truth but do it respectfully and kindly.
An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship. Proverbs 24:26
4. Do Be Compassionate
Show that you care about your friend and their problems without being judgmental. Listen without judgment
You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Luke 6:36
5. Do Be Respectful of Boundaries
Healthy friendships aren’t clingy. Each person values the other’s personal space and preferences. Boundaries are a healthy and important part of great friendships.
“Good boundaries prevent resentment.” ~ Dr. Henry Cloud
6. Do not Gossip
Friends shouldn’t gossip with you or about you. Because the unfortunate truth is … If they will do it with you, they will do it to you.
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends. Proverbs 16:28
7. Do not Judge
The simple facts are you never have all the information. You haven’t lived their experiences and you probably don’t know the whole story.
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” Luke 6:37
8. Do not Pry
If your friend doesn’t want to talk about it—let it go. They’ll talk when they’re ready.
“True friendship comes when the silence between two people is comfortable.” ~ David Tyson Gentry
9. Do not Envy
You may wish you could enjoy their blessings, but I promise you don’t want their problems. Every life has a blend of good and bad.
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30 (NIV)
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
10. Do not Make Promises You Can’t or Won’t Keep
To the best of your ability be reliable. Being trustworthy is one of the most important parts of all relationships.
“May the Lord make us keep our promises to each other, for He has witnessed them.” 1 Samuel 20:23
And that’s my list of the 10 Most Important Things to Do if You Want to Be a Great Friend.
Now, let me also add that I’m a huge fan of simply having fun and laughing together as often as possible. God made us to live life together. To share our laughter and our tears. And He has given us everything we need to encourage each other with love.
Today, if you have one or more great friends . . . stop for a moment and thank God, then reach out and thank them.
Finally, tell us . . . what’s on your list of “important” important things to do to be a great friend?
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