<<pals, companionship>>

A voluntary relationship built up over time and normally beneficial to both parties.

Moses had an intimate relationship with God, who “spoke face to face with Moses as a man speaks with his friend” and Abraham was called God’s friend (Ex 33:11; Isa 41:8; Jas 2:23). David and Jonathan were close friends and remained loyal to the other (1 Sam 18:1,3). 

Friendship with God is based on faith and obedience – “You are my friends if you do what I command” are the words of Jesus (Jn 15:14). “He confides in those that fear [respect and reverence] Him” (Ps 25:14). We are answerable first to God, obeying and submitting to Him, before bowing to the peer pressure of anyone else (Prov 13:20).

Friends usually have lots in common, accepting and believing in each other (faults and all), enjoying each other’s company, doing things together, sharing similar objectives and values, desiring only the other’s best, trusting them with their deepest thoughts and closest confidences. With Christian friends, this should also extend to encouraging

Friendships need ongoing interaction to be genuine and vibrant

them in their faith, praying with and for them. Speaking into their lives in love is the principle of accountability, yet everybody needs space so don’t crowd them (Prov 25:17). A true friend also tells you your faults then helps you correct them.  

A true friend is loyal, available and willing to help in times of need or personal struggle when they are not receiving anything back from the relationship (Prov 17:17; Mt 25:34-46; Lk 10:30-37). To have friends a person must show themselves friendly; Jesus is the friend who sticks closer than a brother does (Prov 18:24).  If you are lacking friends, don’t focus on those who are popular. Rather seek out a lonely person and be a real friend to them, even if they don’t respond.  It is more blessed to give than to receive and through the giving you will be blessed and liberated as you give without the likelihood of receiving back (Lk 6:34,35,38; Act 20:35).

The greatest love is shown when a person lays down their life for their friends – this is what Jesus did for us and He desires us to become His friends through devotion and faithful obedience (Jn 15:13,14). 

We have been reconciled to God (restored back into right relationship), and Jesus gives us that ministry of reconciliation (Rom 5:11; 2 Cor 5:18). Broken or strained friendships hinder our relationship with God, so resolve to correct them quickly (Mt 5:23,24; 1 Jn 4:20). “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3). The Bible encourages us to be kind to others, even strangers (Lk 10:29-37; 1 Thes 3:12). Even when hated or misunderstood, we should always respond with kindness. The bedrock of lasting, healthy relationships is unconditional love which also involves loyalty and the willingness to forgive the offenses, yet holding them accountable (Prov 3:3,4, 10:12; Lk 6:37;Eph 4:2; 1 Pet 4:8). We should without compromise to speak the truth even when others do not agree with our views, hold to our values or due to peer pressure. Jesus spoke what people needed to hear, we must too.

The Bible states, "Bad company corrupts good character" and also asks, “Don’t you realise making friends with God’s enemies [this includes the evil pleasures of this world] makes you an enemy of God?” (1 Cor 15:33; Jas 4:4). Thus we are to be cautious and wise in choosing close friends aware

Be friendly – your smile may be the only ray of hope someone has seen all day

that those we relate to have a powerful influence on us and so must not enter into marriage or other binding contracts with non-Christians (Prov 12:26; 2 Cor 6:14-18). However, we should form good friendships with non-Christians with the intention of building a relational bridge so we can bring them to Christ (Mk 5:19). This is termed friendship evangelism and is very effective in introducing others to Christ and discipling them in the faith.

See also: enemies, fellowship, influence, peer pressure, relationships, strangers, support.