Christian theology associates words like redemption, atonement, grace, justification, and faith with the message of the Bible. But friendship is seldom thought of as a spiritual principle. However, the Bible has quite a lot to say about friendship and there are lots of examples of both good and bad friendships in the Bible that we can glean from.
What Does the Bible Say About Friendship?
The Bible makes it clear that you cannot be friends with God if you hate fellow humans. This is made clear in 1 John 4:20 which states that one cannot love an invisible God and yet hate visible man. Demonstrating love and friendship to others is therefore a great expression of your love for God.
If you think about it, the Bible is an awesome friendship manual – it demonstrates how man can make God his friend and it also demonstrates how you can have better friendships with fellow humans. When Jesus called the twelve, they knew all along that they were servants and co-workers. However, Jesus eventually told them that he no longer called them servants but friends (John 15:15). This means that when we enter into a relationship with God, our ultimate goal should be friendship. However, our friendship with God would be meaningless and empty if we neglected our earthly relationships.
When asked about the most important commandment, Jesus gave two: to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). This underscores the value God places on relationships. First, you must work on your relationship with God and second, you must work on your relationship with man – and that is where friendship comes in.
The Benefits of Friendship
Man is a social being and we all need friends whether you are an introvert or extrovert, you need friends in order to have a fulfilled life. Here are a couple of benefits of friendship from the scriptures.
- Friends can be a source of good Counsel (Proverbs 11:14)
- Friends are a support system (Proverbs 17:17 )
- Friends can help you improve in your areas of weakness (Proverbs 27:17)
- Godly friends will help you grow spiritually (Hebrews 10:24)
Choose Friends Wisely
The Bible makes it clear that you ought to be picky when choosing friends. In Proverbs 12:26, the Bible says that a righteous man is cautious in friendship. If you have the right friends, you will reap the benefits of friendship. However, if you make friends with the wrong people, you will suffer the consequences. Here are some pointers for choosing good friends.
- Avoid making friends with hot-tempered people (Prov. 22:24). This is because anger often leads to sin. Solomon aptly warns that anger resides in the bosom of a fool (Eccl. 7:9).
- Avoid friends that lead you away from God. e.g. friends that lead you into sin. In the words of scripture, “Bad company ruins good morals. 1 Corinthians 15:33.
- Make friends with people who are better than you in some areas. That way, they will inspire you to improve your life. As Solomon observed, whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Proverbs 13:20)
How To Be a Good Friend?
The Bible says that a man who has many friends must be friendly (Proverbs 18:24). This means that friendship is a two-way street. As much as you are looking to benefit from your friends, your friends must also benefit from you. There are a number of things you can do to become a better friend. Here are some directions from the scriptures.
- Treat your friends as you would like them to treat you. (Luke 6:31)
- Love your friends with brotherly affection (Romans 12:10)
- Do not forsake your friends when they are going through a hard time. (Proverbs 27:10)
- Always help your friends with their burdens/issues (Gal. 6:2)
- Read 1 John 4:20. What is the relationship between loving God and loving fellow humans?
- What did Jesus identify as the two most important commandments and what does that have to do with friendship?
- Discuss some of the benefits of friendship according to the Bible
- What does Proverbs 12:26 say about a righteous man in relation to friendship?
- According to 1 Corinthians 15:33, what does bad company do?
- What advice does Proverbs 13:20 offer regarding choosing friends?
- According to Proverbs 18:24, what must a person do if they want to have many friends?
- What does Luke 6:31 instruct regarding how to treat your friends?
- What does Romans 12:10 emphasize about loving your friends?
- In Proverbs 27:10, what should you not do when your friends are going through a hard time?
- According to Galatians 6:2, what should you do for your friends?