God told us at the beginning of time that it’s not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18). We were created to have a relationship with God as well as our fellow man. Our relationship and walk with Christ will always be the most important, but our friendships are important, too. As the body of Christ—the church—grows together in unity and love, we are able to influence the world around us and show them Jesus. As we love each other and experience the unconditional agape love that Christs feels toward us, we make ourselves more effective witnesses to the lost world (Romans 15:5-6).
When I was 20, I moved an hour and a half away from home to complete my final two years of my bachelor degree. I lived alone in an apartment, and I didn’t know a soul in that city—a much larger one than I called home. The loneliness ate at me every day. One Tuesday evening, I prayed for God’s strength and accompaniment as I walked alone across campus to a Baptist Campus Ministry weekly worship night. It took all my courage to go alone, but I was immediately welcomed by the warmth and friendliness of God’s children. I joined a discipleship group of four other girls where we met weekly to grow our knowledge and relationship with the Lord as well as with each other. I continued attending Tuesday night worship—an experience I wish I could relive. One of the girls became my roommate the next semester. Two years later and several hours away, those girls are still my best friends. Stepping out in faith to meet godly people allowed God to transform me during the most pivotal years of my life. God knew I craved connection, and through those connections he grew my knowledge and relationship with him.
Have you ever noticed that the people we spend the most time with are the ones we reflect the most? Many times in my life I’ve said or done things that immediately reminded me of an old friend, coworker, or my husband. We must be careful of who we spend our time with, because they will influence us the most. The Bible has a lot to say about this:
“Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.”1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV
“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”Proverbs 12:26 NIV
Though this is true in every stage of life, our younger years are our most impressionable; our friends shape us in ways we may not even realize.
The friendships I made in college are some of the most beneficial relationships I’ve had in my life. My friends love the Lord and make him a priority. And because they loved me, they had a huge impact on my walk with God. Not only did they encourage me to read my Bible and pray regularly, but they checked in with me weekly to see if I had. We all prayed for each other. We shared our struggles and our triumphs. Our friendships were safe havens for vulnerability. I can still see how God spoke through my friends when I needed encouragement and counsel. There was never an unkind word spoken of another. I experienced the love of Christ and felt his nearness through my friendships.
I say all this to illustrate what is possible through godly relationships. Our ingrained need for connection is by design—God wants us to be intimately connected with others. Through these connections we’re able to experience attributes of God that make him real to us in different ways. “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). Friendships with those that don’t know God are not nearly as fulfilling. It’s nice to have someone to talk to, but the connection can never be as deep as with someone that knows God, because he is love.
But what about us? How can we be that Christlike friend to someone else?
Being a godly friend means encouraging and building each other up, even laying down your life for your friend! “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). A biblical example of a godly friendship is David and Jonathan. The Bible says they loved one another as their own souls, and their souls were knit together (1 Samuel 18:1). When Saul was seeking David to take his life, Jonathan sought out David to “[help] him find strength in God” (1 Samuel 23:16 NIV).
The apostle Paul exhorts us to share our burdens with each other. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). We should lament over personal sin, advise on how we should repent of it, and rejoice in the conquest of it. Godly friends speak truth to each other in love even when it’s hard because they want the best for each other. Godly friends should also pray for and with each other. I can’t tell you how encouraging it was for my friend to pray for me to conclude our weekly coffee dates, and it brought me peace knowing she was praying for me throughout the week as well. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). Pray for your friends, even if they don’t ask for it.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).
Godly friendships edify, increase knowledge, grow faith, and point to Jesus. Do you have a godly friend? If it’s an area of your life that’s lacking, I encourage you to start praying for a Christlike friend. It may be time to step out of your comfort zone in faith. Join a small group at church. If you’re in college, find a Baptist Campus Ministry or another God-centered organization. God wants us to find like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ. Not only does it make us better Christians, but it brings God more glory.
Reflect on your friend group: Do your friendships . . .
- Build each other up?
- Bring you closer to God, or draw you away from him?
- Seek to glorify God?
- Bring you joy, not strife?
- Reflect the attributes of God?
If your friendships aren’t godly and uplifting ones, ask the Lord to work in your relationships to bring him more glory. If your friendships are God-honoring, what a blessing! Lift your friends up in prayer, and check in with them to see how they’re doing and what prayer they might need.
Hannah lives with her husband in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and is currently a senior at Western Kentucky University studying journalism and political science. She is set to graduate with honors in May 2022. She has a passion for sharing how God has worked in her life and how he can work in your life. She also has a passion for petting cats. You can follow her on Instagram at @mrshannahclaussen.