I am ever so grateful for a close friend like Jo. What an amazing woman. She has been a lifeline for me when I felt like I was drowning. Burnout is hard. Being divorced is hard. Being single is hard. But I got through it with the strength of God and Jo’s support. This is why you need Godly friends.
Characteristics of a Godly friend
The Bible has a lot to say about Godly friendships.
“Know this, my beloved brothers (and sisters): let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” James 1:19 ESV (explanation added)
This verse gives us three important characteristics of a Godly friend.
- Good listener
- Is not quick to give advice
- Mild tempered
This describes Jo. She is such a good listener. And rather than giving advice, she affirmed my feelings.
Jo had been through burnout herself, as well as losing a husband so she knew that the feelings don’t evaporate overnight.
But the Bible has a lot more to say about Godly friendships.
“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 ESV
“A friend loves at all times and a brother (or sister) is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 (explanation added)
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up … “ 1 Thessalonians 5:11
There are times when we just need to borrow strength from each other and that is what these verses are talking about.
You see, when we feel alone, we feel weak. But when we know that someone else is in our corner praying for us, and speaking words of encouragement, we are suddenly better able to carry on.
These kinds of friends are truly a gift from God.
Godly friendships in the Bible
We were not meant to live life alone. God created us in His image, with the ability to bond with each other and with Him. There are several examples of good friendships in the Bible, and several which were not so good.
Examples of Godly friends
Naomi and Ruth are really good examples of Godly friends. Technically, they were family, Naomi being the mother-in-law, and Ruth being the daughter-in-law.
But since In-laws often are not the best of friends we can learn from these two.
Both women became widows about the same time. In their time of history, this could have been a dire situation because women couldn’t just go out and get a job. They depended on their husbands for their support.
Ruth had family close by that she could go home to. Naomi, on the other hand, would have to make a long journey to return to her family. It could be a dangerous trip going alone. She was discouraged and weary.
Ruth chose to help Naomi by traveling with her. This friendship was about meeting needs and encouraging one another. Naomi needed Ruth and Ruth was willing to serve Naomi in this way.
Once they reached their destination, it was Naomi’s turn to help Ruth navigate the Jewish customs that she was not used to. In the end, Ruth gained a husband and Naomi was welcomed into that home.
Ruth and Naomi looked out for each other, encouraged each other, and served each other.
Examples of not so Godly friends
Sometimes we can understand better what something really is by looking at the opposite. In the following examples, we learn how Godly friends act by contrasting their behavior with what is not of God.
Job’s 3 friends
I hesitate to call these three characters actual friends because they did a lot of harm. In fact, here are some rather condemning words about them.
“He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” Job 6:14
How we treat others is important to God. We have a responsibility to be kind to them, and especially to those, we count as friends.
So what went wrong with the three who thought they were Job’s friends?
- After a brief time of listening, they talked way too much.
- They were impatient and in a hurry for Job to get over feeling bad.
- They started giving advice when Job had not asked for it.
- When Job didn’t make progress as fast as they thought he should, they were quick to blame him for his troubles.
Do you know people like this? I sure do. Their words hurt instead of heal.
Here was a man who accepted an invitation to follow Jesus. They spent a great amount of time together.
Unfortunately, Judas came into the relationship for what he could get out of it, not what he could give. He also embezzled money from the disciple’s coffers and accepted a bribe, setting a trap for Jesus to be arrested.
Judas was all about himself and self-centered people are not Godly friends.
Building Godly friendships
So where do you find Godly friends? And once you find them, how do you nurture that relationship into something solid that you both can benefit from?
Where to find Godly friends
One of the best places to find Godly friends is through a Bible-based church and church activities. Their whole mission is to help people know Jesus and become more like Him.
Jesus is the absolute best example of a Godly friend. Bible-based churches teach people how to imitate Jesus.
“But the fruit of the Spirit (what Jesus is like) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control …” Galatians 5:22-23 (explanation added)
These qualities make for the best friends.
How to nurture Godly friendships
There is so much we can do to nurture Godly friendships. Most are super simple.
- Send a text message saying you are thinking about your friend and ask how you can pray for her.
- mail an encouraging greeting card to your friend.
- Send her a gift card that is to her favorite eatery.
- Help her with some home tasks like gardening, painting a room, or whatever.
- Take her a meal when she is sick.
- Go out to coffee together.
- Invite her for lunch after church.
I bet you can think of a hundred more things. Would you be willing to share some in the comments?
Are you a Godly friend?
Real friendship is a two-way street. In order to have Godly friends, we must be one in return.
Chances are if you are having a hard time cultivating Godly friendships part of the problem is that you need to strengthen your own friendship skills.
So here is what you need to do:
- Read Scriptures about friends.
- Pray about it. Ask God to help you be a good friend.
- Keep a journal with what you are learning from Scripture. This Bible reading journal is just about Godly friendships.
- Get involved in a group of people who love Jesus, who will pray with you and for you.
Godly friends are extremely important to our well-being. They are gifts from God and impact our lives in ways that we sometimes are not aware of.
We all have times when we are burdened by life with its demands and uncertainty. Your friends can be your lifeline when those times come. That is why you need Godly friends.
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