Stuff you should know: How to Form Healthy Friendships
The truth about friends is they will affect your life because these are the people who are closest to you. Their access to your life is going to lift you up or tear you down. They are going to help you move closer to the Lord, or they will move you away from Him. This level of influence in your life makes choosing friends so critical. It’s always easier to pull people down than pull them up. That’s why you must make sure the people you hang out with the most are moving you in the right direction, spiritually and emotionally.
Bottom Line: Your friends determine the quality and direction of your life.
Something To Talk About:
Consider the following when choosing your friends:
- Choose friends who encourage me spiritually: We believe that our faith is a relational one. And coupled with the command to love God and our neighbor, do we have the vital and life-giving relationships in place needed to accomplish those goals? We need to walk with one another, in the company of Jesus, so that we each can find the strength and encouragement to grow to be more like Christ. The purpose of spiritual friendship is a common commitment to help one another grow in Christlikeness. Friends are encouragers. Following Jesus in a fallen world means there will be times when we will face setbacks and discouragement. Friends are channels of God’s grace, encouraging us to press on, and challenging us to be our best. When the going gets tough, we draw strength from our friends to press on because we have been encouraged spiritually.
- Choose friends who consistently support me emotionally: Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Serving or supporting others is not limited to grand gestures or extravagant acts. It can be as simple as offering a listening ear, lending a helping hand, or showing a genuine smile. Acts of kindness, no matter how small, can have a profound impact on the lives of others. We support others emotionally when we serve with compassion, we enter into the experiences of others and seek to understand their struggles and pain. We show empathy and extend a helping hand without judgment or discrimination. Showing empathy to someone who is disheartened can work wonders. We can bring that hope and joy into the other person’s story, doing so in a way that shows they are not alone. With that simple action, we can help to change their story by being a part of it.
- Choose friends who challenge me to think: “Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s” (Matthew 16:23). True friends love each other enough to correct the other if needed. Our friends help keep us honest. They challenge us lovingly when we are dishonest with ourselves and they keep us accountable to our desire to follow Christ. We are called to be people who speak the truth in love, (Ephesians 4:15) spur each other on (Hebrews 10:24), and encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13). This means we seek friendships where both people are putting effort into the relationship. The friends who point each other back to our identities in Christ, who fight for each other, and who stay when things get hard. The friends who try to live like Jesus. This is the kind of friend we want and we want to be.
- Who are the people who have the most influence in your life? Are they moving you in the right direction?
- How does it help you emotionally to have close friends?
- How does it help you in more practical ways to rely on close friends? What does it mean to be intentional in choosing your friends?
- Why is it important that our closest friends be people of good character and integrity?
- How are you encouraging your Christian friends to grow spiritually?
- What kinds of so-called friends should we not choose as close friends and why?
- A true, core friend offers you support, confidence, and hope. Share a time when a friend encouraged you. How did their encouragement make you feel?
- What character qualities hinder good friendships? What character qualities encourage good friendships?
- What does it mean to be an available, empathetic friend? How can you become that kind of friend to someone else?
- How will you put into practice what you’ve learned today?
Take One Thing Home with You:
Relationships are key to our well-being, as we build them, delight in them, and find comfort and encouragement from the people we are in a relationship with. Our relationships with others help in forming our days, our activities, and our thoughts, and bring fullness to our life. God cares about how we relate with one another. The Bible is full of practical and insightful wisdom when it comes to relationships. However, just as in practically every other thing, sin has corrupted the design. We relate with sinners, in fact, every relationship we have is with a sinner. While that lets no one off the hook, it should make us all a little more patient and full of grace towards each other. Not only does God provide us with wisdom to navigate relationships, but He provides the power and transformation to all believers in Jesus. Real intimacy in our relationships starts with intimacy with our Lord Jesus Christ. Only He can give us the security, acceptance, and power to heal and grow our connections with each other