In our society, almost everything we see and hear is about romantic and sexual relationships. Everyone is looking for “the one”. We are wrongly told that to be fulfilled in life, we must be in a sexual relationship. So, what about friendship? Is it important?
As human beings made in the image of God, we are made to be in relationships. We are born into families where our most important relationships are with our parents or those who take care of us. As a child grows up, friends become increasingly important. Some people have lots of friends, others only a few and most people will have one or two particularly close friends.
What the Bible says about friendship
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)
Friends can have huge influence for good or for bad. It is important to choose friends carefully as well as to be a good and wise friend. We need friends who will encourage us in our relationship with God and who will keep us accountable and at times tell us the hard truths we need to hear. This article talks about how to recognise, and how to become, a good friend.
Friendships need time and attention
Everyone needs friends but not everyone will get married. It is important to be intentional and cultivate good friendships by making the time for them. Even in the event that we do end up in a romantic relationship and get married, our friends will still be important and we will be important to them. A marriage partner may be our best friend, but he or she cannot fulfil all our emotional needs – we still need friends to provide encouragement and support.
Just good friends?
There are several examples in the Bible of the blessing of close friendships between those of the same sex. David and Jonathan remained best of friends in the middle of life-threatening attacks on David from King Saul (see 1 Samuel 20).
Sometimes such close friendships of the same sex can provoke unjustified accusations that they are something more than friendship. Don’t be put off by this. Before God, such close friendships are quite different from romantic relationships.
Real life friends
Whatever age you are, good friendships are very valuable – a true blessing from God. The past 18 months have been very difficult, with restrictions that may have prevented you meeting up with your friends. For many of you that has meant a lot of time spent on-line and it may be hard to get back into the habit of real face to face friendships. It is vital that you do this. Virtual contact can never be a real substitute for face to face meeting. You need to be able to see your friends in person, hug them, pray with them, talk about the Lord together, enjoy a meal, laugh at a movie together and share your lives with each other!