Amongst God’s many gifts, I thank God for friends. On Saturday some friends, Randy and Lori, came over for lunch. We have known each other since Sophie was in the sixth grade (Randy taught Sophie’s class). Through the past ten years deep conversations, geocache adventures, cancer survival, weddings, grandchildren, spiritual exhortations, and much more contributed to the shape of our friendship.
Last week a friend texted a community announcement which invited us to join together for a dance class. Through the Cupid Shuffle, Irish Jig, Line Dancing, and Walk the Dinosaur we laughed and worked up a sweat. Laughter, learning, and lingering to chat after the class brought us closer together as friends.
Tonight a friend of over 12 years arrives to enjoy an evening for dinner, dialogue, and dessert. We plan to share from the stories of our lives, the spaces God convicts and conforms us, and offer presence to one another. We may not solve all of the world’s issues, but we will engage life both near and far. 🤪
Friendship – The state of being friends. A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.
By God’s grace, I enjoy a variety of friendships. How about you? Some friends live just 10-20 minutes away, so opportunities to meet often arise; whether for a cup of coffee, a quick bite to eat, a walk with the dog, or just a companionable visit in each other’s home. Then, there are those friends that, even though they live locally, a number of weeks often pass due to the demands and rigors of life, and yet when we connect, the conversation picks up where we last left off and we dive deep into life, longings, and the love of the Lord. A few friends on the east coast and I text multiple times per week sharing truths from the Word and praying into the ups and downs of daily living. Additionally, I experience thankfulness for friends who do not live close by, but lie close within my heart. When we connect in person, over the phone, or via text, we spur one another on, share aspects of our journey, and engage in matters that really matter. 😊
Reflect on the friendships you experience. Consider the ways you live life alongside one another. Thank God for each friend, recognizing the unique style of each relationship.
I find myself reflecting on God’s design of friendship. Friendship reflects the heart of the Gospel. The greatest commands to love God and love others sets the foundation for salvation as well as friendship. If you discover yourself saying that you don’t like people or you’d rather just be alone, please check your heart. Allow God to realign your soul toward friendship in His design. 💜
Our triune God enjoyed friendship with Abraham and Moses: “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.’ (James 2:23) ‘The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.’ (Exodus 33:11) Both of these men listened to God, engaged in authentic conversation with God, and obeyed God. They experienced a depth of knowing between themselves and their closest Friend, God. Abraham and Moses shared mutual affection in their encounters with the Lord.
Do you consider God a friend? Describe your relationship with God.
Examples of the genuine nature and depth of friendship exist in abundance throughout Scripture. Consider just a few: Ruth and Naomi (Ruth), David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18), David and Ittai (2 Samuel 15), Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2), Paul and Priscilla and Aquila (Romans 16), Paul and Timothy and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2), and Dorcas and her friends (Acts 9). Although each of these friendships reflects the distinctions of the individuals involved, the commitment they exhibit toward one another reflects the heart of God and the invitation of the Gospel.
In John 15:15 Jesus calls His followers, friends. This invitation reflects God’s love and commitment to His people. Saints from the past as well as present day disciples enjoy friendship with Jesus. In the Bible, we read that Jesus spent time with His disciples; they traveled together, ate meals together, celebrated life together, conversed deeply together, and experienced hardship together. They were friends.
Friendship involves togetherness, the ministry of presence. Being together in person or in heart develops space for connection. Jesus’ love and devotion to Lazarus, Mary and Martha, through his encounters with them, demonstrates His care for the concerns upon their hearts (Luke 10, John 11). Developing friendships requires time and intentionality. Jesus models this brilliantly.
As I sort through components of friendship, another acronym emerges within my mind and heart. For me, this language device helps me remember and reflect in meaningful ways. I hope the acronym engages your heart and mind as well.
F – Fun – Friends create shared experiences together. These times often incorporate fun, levity, new opportunities, and service. What are ways to participate in fun with a friend?
R – Reliable – When two people trust that the other offers accessibility, dependability, and loyal companionship, the friendship characterizes a reliable relationship. How reliable are you with others?
I – Initiative – Friends pursue one another through initiating communication and opportunities to deepen connection. Friendship develops when reciprocity occurs between both individuals revealing mutual interest and commitment. Do you resist taking the initiative to connect with others? Ponder why.
E – Experience – Life experiences bond people together. The highs and lows of life provide opportune times to get to know the heart of others. What experiences bond you in friendship with others?
N – Nourish – Relationship between friends nourishes the soul. Conversations stimulate the heart and mind and offer sustenance through life. Through the selfless ministry of presence, mutual support and affinity grow. In what ways do you nourish the friends in your life?
D – Discernment – Friends discern beyond the surface. They live attentive to not only the words shared, but the emotions behind the words. The Spirit aligns hearts and brings discernment to the friendship regarding the complexities of life so care flows. How can you live more discerning with your friends?
S – Spirituality – Encouraging one another to follow Jesus anchors deep friendship. Spiritually learning from one another sharpens and strengths friends. With whom do you share the ways God meets with you through Scriptures, prayer, silence, conviction, and service? What do you learn from the spiritual journeys of friends?
H – Honesty – Living authentically with one another requires honesty. Friends do not hide the truth of who they are; their passions, struggles, and dreams. Honest relationships create trustworthy and safe spaces in which help and hope prevail. How honest are you with others?
I – Influence – Companions impact each other. Friends allow space for vulnerable conversation, differing perspectives and opinions, and openness to be influenced by others. This requires humility. How do you allow those around you to influence your thinking and behavior?
P – Personhood – Friends honor the unique personhood of the other; created in the image of God. Friends esteem one another and treat each other with dignity and respect. Friends protect, provide for, and pray for one another. What are ways to honor the personhood of others?
God, help us, by your Spirit, to honor you with our friendships. May we follow your example in our relationships with others. We want to love you and love others well. Let us take the responsibility to reflect you in our friendships seriously.
Show us the ways we need to grow in order to offer friendship as you designed. Thank you that we do not journey alone, for you guide us. Teach us the ways to engage FRIENDSHIP into our connections with both you and others: Fun, Reliability, Initiative, Experience, Nourishment, Discernment, Spirituality, Honesty, Influence, and Personhood.
For your glory alone O Lord, we pray, Amen.
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Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
Proverbs 27:6,9 – Wounds from a friend can be trusted…Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.
Ephesians 4:9-10 – Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 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.
Proverbs 18:24 – One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.
Jamie Moore. Friendship with God: Discover God’s Relational Presence and Receive Peace, Identity, and Purpose for Your Life Parrish, FL. 2021.
Kim Wier. The Art of Friendship: Creating and Keeping Relationships that Matter. Minneapolis, MN. 2020.
Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.
Phillips, Craig, and Dean. Friend of God. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kI5ju1ElG0
Kristene DiMarco | Bethel Worship. What a Friend I’ve Found. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM4glcRK0ic