So here is part 2! I have been studying and preaching about friendships here at the House of Prayer for the last 2 weeks, as a part of our “How to Go Deep in God” series. The reason why you want to get right understanding and God’s thoughts on friendships is because having community and accountability will help you go deeper into God.
Here are some characteristics of healthy friendships:
- Healthy friendships are not based primarily on natural qualities-like looks or likes
- Healthy friendships are based on mutual preoccupation with God – a great friend is one who is committed with you to growing spiritually. Having things in common is not necessary when you have Him in common.
- Healthy relationships must be committed to mutual willingness to speak the truth/honesty-to confront in love and in the right timing or to welcome admonition.
- Healthy relationships have healthy speech– this includes no sarcasm– sarcasm literally means “to tear apart” or “to strip off the flesh”. Ah! It’s more than just a sarcastic comment, it’s a sarcastic posture. Sarcasm comes from a bitter heart. Sarcasm is appropriate culturally, but not for Godly relationships. Sarcasm puts up walls in relationships because the other person receiving the sarcastic remarks doesn’t feel safe in the relationship.
- Healthy relationships encourage each other, or put courage in the heart of others.
- Healthy friendships have a dimension of reaching out to serve others- remaining inclusive. We must remain selfless and open-handed without requiring exclusivity. (At the root of dysfunction is selfishness and control.)
- Healthy relationships share one another’s blessings and burdens. To cultivate strong relationships we must be willing to mutually share deep feelings, thoughts, and experiences with each other, as well as dreams, sacrifices, pains, setbacks, and struggles
Five Different Kinds of Friendships
- Marriage– the most intimate relationship that you choose to help transform you and the other into Christ-likeness. Your cross has been tailor made! Friendship in marriage can increase if you take up the many invitations that you might walk through of offense, mistreatment, and sin. Deep friendship in marriage has to be fought for, it is not automatic. Marriage is the only relationship that demands exclusivity.
- Close friendships– People that you can link arms with and run hard after God together. It is a type of friendship where you can receive from and give, where you can be vulnerable (in strengths and weaknesses) without scorn and have permission to call each other higher. These are the friends you want to be accountable too. (My opinion is that these should be of the same gender as you)
- Righteous Friends – Refreshing friendships that provoke and encourage you. From these types of friendships you will find those that you would want to be more vulnerable with. (I would say you can have righteous friendships in both genders.)
- Those who are over you (authority/leadership/mom/dad/mentoring)-those you have chosen and those you haven’t chosen- must honor and respect them, but also from who you can go to for wisdom, advice… You don’t “give” a lot in these types of friendships, you receive more.
- Those you are pouring into, discipling and any ministry focuses. (This type could usually take the most of your time.) Jesus hung out with sinner and tax collectors and poured into them. We must recognize the ones God has placed into our life that we minister and pour into and that they differ in how we relate to them then say a close friendship. Some people mistake their ministry focus friends as their close friends and don’t understand why they are not feeling encouraged or why their friends drag them down. But these relationships require a different posture of heart where you give more than receive.
It helps to understand the differing kinds of friendships. I would encourage you to ask the Lord who He has put in your life and why? Once or twice a year ask these questions:
- What is your divine purpose for each person in this season of my life?
- To whom is my time going? Where and to whom do I want to have my time go?