Inside: Our friendships with one another will only have a solid foundation and be able to flourish if they are built on the solid rock of Christ.
We all know that fostering true biblical friendship isn’t easy – it takes work. Jesus told us in John 16:33 that we’re going to have trouble in this world, and trouble does touch all our lives in various areas, but this includes our friendships too.
We’ll be hurt; we’ll be the ones hurting others; selfishness is a battle; jealousy and envy raise their ugly heads; we have our fears and insecurities, failed expectations, the damage our tongues do to one another, not appropriating the gospel and these all come from hearts that are still battling sin.
So when these threats to our friendship with one another in Christ come up, it shouldn’t surprise us that we have these issues, but what we need to keep at the forefront of our minds is how we respond and deal with them when they do come up.
I want to walk us through some of these threats, and this list I’m working with isn’t exhaustive – there are many more threats than what I am addressing today – but these are areas that stood out to me that have been a battle within some of my friendships over the years. Sadly, it is often the sin I’m battling in my heart, and I need to get my thinking, attitudes, and actions lined up with God’s Word.
Not one of us is going to respond rightly at every moment. Hence, conflict is inevitable, but what I want us to be reminded of as I’m walking through some of these threats is as we have these challenges with one another and as we learn how to handle these conflicts and challenges biblically, it will continue to mature us more in our walk with the Lord. It will strengthen our friendships as we go through stormy waters together and arrive at a calm shore.Our friendships with one another will only have a solid foundation and be able to flourish if they are built on the solid rock of Christ.
One author stated it:
“It’s not a friendship until you hit a rough spot, and you have to work through it together.”
So, I’m sure you’re like me, and you’d love friendships that don’t have any difficulties and go smoothly, but it’s just not going to be a reality. As I stated earlier, as Jesus’ words remind us, we will have trouble.
But as we hold to the truth of the Word and work through these difficulties in God’s way – our friendships will be strengthened and refined. We will grow in our maturity in the Lord, and each time we work through these conflicts and threats to our friendships to honor the Lord through the hard times, we will grow more and more like Jesus.
So, If you’re here with me today and amid a challenging friendship – I pray you will be encouraged and push forward to honor the Lord in whatever the difficulty is, and if you’re in a season of sunshine and butterflies with your friendships, then continue to serve and love her and think the best of her in all situations.
A good friendship lives out Philippians 2:3-4:
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
This thought is key to hold to as we begin to dig in:
Our friendships with one another will only have a solid foundation and be able to flourish if they are built on the solid rock of Christ.
Listen to Podcast Episode 140: Threats to Biblical Friendship:
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The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship by Jonathan Holmes
Getting to the Heart of Friendships by Amy Baker
Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships by Christine Hoover
Who Am I?: Identity in Christ by Jerry Bridges
Jonathan Holmes, in his book, The Company we Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship, stated on our being self-focused that these questions can loom about in our minds:
- Do they like me?
- Can I make them like me?
- Will they accept me?
- Will they love me?
- What will they give to me?
- What are they expecting from me?
- Will they hurt me?
He stated they aren’t necessarily bad questions, but they are all self-focused – they are focused on personal benefit and not God-focused.
The ultimate purpose and design of friendship is to point to God and His glory.Jonathan Holmes, The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship
We basically have three options when we learn something about someone:
1. We can talk to them about it.
2. We can talk to others about it.
3. We can keep it to ourselves and talk directly to God about it.If we find ourselves talking to others more than we’re talking to God about a person or situation, it’s probably gossip
Six questions I have written in my Bible that have been a help to me over the years may be a help to you, too, to be prayerful and slow to speak. These are helpful questions not just in our friendships but in our marriages and with our children, and truly any of our relationships:
- Is this the time to say this?
- Am I the person to say this?
- Is it necessary?
- Is it true?
- Is it kind?
- Do I need to say this?
The only opinion in the world that should control us is God’s opinion.
If you need people, you will suck them dry, and your relationships will always be strained or fractured.
If you do not need people, you will be released to love and serve them the way Jesus did.
~ Rick Thomas
A strong Christian friendship is one where both parties seek the good of the other.
- John 16:33
- Philippians 2:3-4
- Matthew 12:20
- Ephesians 6:12
- Luke 6:45
- Romans 1:29
- James 3:9-10
- Proverbs 31:26
- Matthew 18
- James 3:5-6
- James 1:14-15
- Mark 9:24
- Ephesians 4:22-32
- Romans 8:31-39
- Matthew 20:28
- Proverbs 11:25
- 1 Samuel 1:9-28
- 1 Corinthians 13:7
- Luke 6:31
In our friendships, as we need to do with every part of our lives as believers, we need to keep our eyes on eternity.
One day when we are in Heaven, we will be able to worship alongside our dearest friends in Christ without any of the threats we discussed today and all the others we didn’t discuss.
I pray today that your friendships remind you to look to the gospel and what is to come.
Treasure the gift of your friends. See your friendships what they truly are – a gift from the Lord! And because of the gospel, we can have the sweetest friendships here on earth today as we await our Heavenly homecoming. We don’t have to wait until Heaven.
Don’t stop pursuing your friends, don’t stop forgiving, and don’t stop putting time and energy into your friendships. It is worth your time to do so and keep loving and serving them.
If you are in Christ, you have the greatest friend ever. It is a fully secure relationship because if you have trusted in Christ, everything depends on His perfect sacrifice on the Cross and not on anything you have done.
My one plea today is if you have not come to know and be known by Jesus, you can do so by repenting your sins and trusting in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation.
I can assure you amid all the friends we will have in this lifetime – there is no one like Jesus. I praise God for the gift of Jesus and the reminder that even the best of our earthly relationships will not bring us complete fulfillment. Jesus Christ is the only One who can fully satisfy our hearts.