Friendship 101

I have been thinking a lot about friendship. What are the qualities of a good friend? And more importantly how do you teach your children to make friends and be a ‘good’ friend in return. As I put together some words for my kids I realised that I was re-learning some of these truths myself. As you get older the nature of friendships can change. Marriage gifts you a best friend, distance makes others harder to spend time with, the busyness of life means that sometimes your activities don’t reflect what is in your heart, how much you would value being in the company of a new or old friend. But I have been reminded that it is worth thinking through. Women do ‘friendship’ in a particular way. Men have another method entirely and yet it works. We all have a need to be liked, affirmed, included, encouraged and challenged by friendship. The world is full of advice for relationships. I have tried to think about friendship in the context of family and from a kingdom perspective. So here is what I shared with my kids. I would love to know how you talk to your family about friends.

Friendship is hard work but rewarding. Even now I have to work hard to develop, maintain and encourage my friendships and some of them come and go, as life changes.

You are allowed to have many friends at one time and not a BFF. In fact being friends broadly is better then committing to someone you are not sure about. I think honesty is very important in a friendship, but that does not mean we don’t sometimes hurt each other or make mistakes. We can apologise and forgive. Friends need to be kind, need to be able to laugh, share common interests, speak well of each other to others, respect one another, be compassionate and be willing to learn from mistakes. Friends can influence each other for good and bad. Who you choose to be your friend is important and not something to rush. You need to be wise.  

Perhaps part of this process of thinking about friendship and what you need to look for in a friend is also to think about who you are. How has GOD made you? What gifts, skills and interests has he given you? Think of times you had had great fun with others and consider why it has been so good – was it the place you enjoyed, the people, the event?

He has also placed you in a family and what a great place to practise being friends. How could you do this – be better friends to your sisters and brothers? What might you need to do each day to accomplish this?

And finally, the Bible gives us a lot of instructions about friends.   

Jesus on Friendship

John 15:12-15 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

Greatest Friend is God
James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

How To Pick Your Friends
Proverbs 12:26 One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Proverbs 14:6-7 A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding. Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
Proverbs 22:24-25 Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

How To Treat Your Friends
Luke 6:31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.
Ephesians 4:29-32 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Importance of Friendships
Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
Proverbs 24:5 A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.