Next, let us look at “Checking our friendships.” I want us to start by looking at three scripture verses. The first is Proverbs 27:19 and it says, “A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.”
The second is found in James 4:4 “You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God, (NLT). Look at how the King James puts it: 4Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
The third scripture is found in Romans 12:2 and it says: And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
As I said before, friends come in many kinds: good friends, best friends, acquaintances, fake friends, true friends, evil friends, casual friends (whatever that means), companion, neighbour, comrade, and today, there are even “online” friends! But I want us to look at some of the biblical description of friends as it helps us to check our friendship.
a. FAKE FRIENDS
Proverbs 19:6 “Many seek the favour of the generous and everyone is a friend to a giver of gifts.” The King James says: 6 Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.
Know what? When you are in a position of authority and can give gifts, you will always have those who pretend to be friends; they will flatter to exploit you. If you love to give gifts, you will always have “friends” who are always staring at your hand, ever ready to receive gifts. So let me ask you this question: are they really friends? No, they are not because these are greedy individuals who are only interested in themselves!
Now, don’t we, many times, treat God the same way? And the prosperity preachers are famous for that! They actually teach that if you do this or that, you should, God is obligated to give you a huge reward but you know better! It just does not work that way and that is why here at Restoration Church, we do our utmost to preach straight and directly from the Holy Bible. Look at what Proverbs 20:6 says: 6“Many describe themselves as people of faithful love, but who can find someone really to be trusted?”
b. PAIN INFLICTING FRIENDS
Proverbs 25:18-20 18″Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is one who gives false testimony against a neighbor. 19Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble. 20Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”
c. EVIL FRIENDS
Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers…”
d. TRUE FRIENDS
Proverbs 27:6 “Well meant [faithful] are the wounds a friend inflicts, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” You know, those kinds of friends who will always stab you in the front.
The word “reliable” can replace the word “faithful” used here in this verse. In life’s experience, there may come a time when a good friend may seem to hurt us. Now note that I say “seem,” because usually at the time that something is unfolding, you are ignorant and so it may look like the friend is hurting you. But if they are good friends, then you can expect them to be reliable in what they do or say. However, if they do what they do or say what they say out of hatred, then you know to stay away from them. Drop them!
Sometimes we need to be told the truth. I think that’s what Paul had in mind when he admonished the Ephesians to “speak the truth in love;” read Ephesians 4:15 with me. We need to be told when we’ve offended someone. We need to be told when we’ve made mistakes. We need to be told the truth when we are about to make bad decisions. You see, a true friend, “speaking the truth in love” will risk being liked in order to help you. Sometimes, the truth just cuts, plain and simple.
Have you ever noticed how the Word of God cuts? The truth of Jesus is like a surgical knife in that it cuts to heal. Remember the prophet Nathan confronting king David when the latter killed Bathsheba’s husband then took her for wife? Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” God speaks to us through the Word, through the Spirit and through good counsel from the fellowship (e.g. pastor and other saints), family or friends. Yes, brethren sometimes the truth hurts.
Let us read Proverbs 17:9, “Whoever forgives an offence fosters friendship; whoever raises the matter again divides friends.” Now, here’s the question: What about Yourself? While you check out your friends (pun intended), check yourself too and note what Luke 6:31 says: 31And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
Constructing Stronger Friendship – Some Six Traits of True Godly Friends
As Christians, we should have a desire to be able to identify true, godly friendships. Though not exhaustive, here is a list to guide you:
1. True Godly Friends Love Sacrificially
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Jesus is the finest example of a true Christian friend. His love for us is sacrificial, never selfish. For instance, He demonstrated it through His nature and healing miracles, through the humble service of washing the disciples, feet, and the ultimate of all, by dying on the cross. If we choose our friends based only on what they have to offer, we will forfeit so much because we will rarely discover the blessings that is embedded in honest friendship.
Philippians 2:3 says, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves so when you value your friend’s needs above yours, guess what? Others will see Jesus in you, your light will shine before men and in all likelihood you will gain a true and genuine friend. And, God will get the glory. Amen!
2. True Godly Friends Accept Unconditionally
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. The best of friendships are with brothers and sisters in the Lord who put Christ first and, know and accept our weaknesses and imperfections. If we are choleric, easily offended or hold on to grudges, bitterness, and so on, we will have a hard time making friends.
No one is perfect. We all make mistakes now and then. If we take a truthful look at ourselves, we’ll admit that we bear some of the blame when things go wrong in a friendship. It is said a good friend quickly seeks forgiveness and readily forgives.
3. True Godly Friends Accept Conditionally
Acts 15:38-41 in this story, first a rift appeared between Paul and Barnabas, and it was a sharp contention. Recognizing that Paul was the apostle, and apostle of Jesus Christ, Barnabas should have submitted to Paul’s authority but he didn’t. The rift was about John Mark and whether to bring him along on a missionary journey. Paul didn’t take John and instead took Silas. Later, it appeared that John was rehabilitated because we him and Paul together in 1Corinthians 9:6.
4. True Godly Friends Trust Completely
Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. This proverb reveals that a true godly friend is trustworthy while emphasizing another key truth: expect only to share total trust with a only few loyal friends. Trusting too easily can lead to ruin so just be careful; don’t put your confidence in a mere companion. Over time your true Christian friends will prove their trustworthiness by sticking closer than a brother or sister.
5. True Godly Friends Keep Healthy Boundaries
Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy …. If you feel or are bothered and smothered in a friendship, then for sure something is amiss. If you feel or are used or abused, something is wrong. What I am saying is that know what’s best for you and for your friends and recognize when they need some space. Doing so indicates a healthy friendship and relationship. satan tried coming between Jesus and Peter, between Jesus and Judas. While he failed in the former, Judas, in the latter allowed it and ended up committing suicide, forever separating himself from God.
What about relations with our spouse? Never, and I repeat never ever let a friend come between you and your spouse. A true and godly friend will wisely avoid intruding and in so doing, your friendship will be maintained.
6. True Godly Friends Mutually Edify Each Other
Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted … True godly friends will build each other up mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Friends like to be together simply because it feels good. But godly friends expect to receive wisdom, love, understanding, strength, encouragement when they are toether. Such friends will also listen, talk, cry and listen. Be such a friend. But at times, a true godly friend will also say in love, the difficult things that a you, their friend need to hear.
Because of the shared trust and acceptance, a true godly friend is the one person who can impact his friend’s heart. Why? Because that friend knows how to deliver the hard and tough message with truth and grace. No wonder Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
So what if you don’t have many friends? Does it mean that something’s wrong with you? No! Remember, true godly friendships are rare treasures and rare treasures are hard to come by. Moreover, such rare friends take time to nurture, but in the process YOU grow more Christ-like. Amen.
The Bible does talk about changing our friendships. Changing is like chopping friendship and is something that sounds unchristian especially when the Bible says forgive seventy times seven and love your enemy. But just so you know that I am not making up the importance of changing one’s friendship, and just so you will heed my advice, see what Proverbs 12:15 says: “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice—let’s listen to the advice of Proverbs.” Now, let’s go through some scriptures.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 “And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken—in my friendships, there must be room for Jesus (I can’t a meaningful friendship in which I am ashamed to bring up His name).”
Proverbs 13:20 “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”
Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[b]? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
Here are some more reasons why you want to change or chuck friendships:
- The Promise-breaker ~ Numbers 30:2 If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
- The Mocker ~ Proverbs 22:10 “Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.”
- The Liar ~ Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”
- The Betrayer ~ Matthew 26:48 “Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.'”
- The Self-centered ~ Proverbs 8:1 “An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.”
- The Talebearer ~ Proverbs 20:19 “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.”
- The Envious ~ Ecclesiastes 4:4 “And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
- The Fault-finder ~ Matthew 7:4-5 “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Changing friendships should not be difficult. With prayer and submission to the Holy Spirit, you are first able to acknowledge the tell tale signs of an unfriendly approach in a so-called friend. Once you stand on the Word of God, you are able to make any decision and God Himself will handle any eventualities because as the Word says, “Man looks on outward appearances but God looks on the heart.” Your motive is based on your heart and as you know, nothing is hidden from the Lord. You need to change your friendship if it is the wrong friendship, and God will be glorified. Amen.