5 Qualities of Healthy Friendships
1 Corinthians 10:31 says “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
I find myself chuckling in this verse because Paul uses such a seemingly smaller part of our day, and uses it as a way to challenge us in how we approach our everyday actions. I realized that if he used a smaller example such as eating and drinking, that should call me to look at my life and assess how I am giving glory to God in ways that are more than just my breakfast choices.
A piece of my life that has come up a lot recently is how I am giving glory to God in my close friendships. Friendships are more than just shopping trips and talking on the phone for hours. There is a greater purpose that God has created within the companionship that comes with friendships.
John 15:13 says “ Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
In the Christian life we are called to lay down our lives daily and give them up to God. So why would our friendships be any different? Well, here’s why. That can be difficult. When we let people in they can hurt us, and laying down our life would be putting ourselves out on the line.
The problem is that the fear of putting ourselves out on the line, is actually a basic requirement for entering into friendships in the first place.
I have found 5 key ways when it comes to developing healthy friendships that require laying down our life for our friends.
1) Healthy friendships go beneath the surface.
This means truly opening yourself up and allowing someone to come in and get to know who you truly are. This means the good, the bad, and the ugly. Surface level friendships at some point have a dead end point, and I have seen in friendships that when they can’t truly get past the surface, this creates an environment of actually feeling more lonely. There is so much freedom in being fully known by someone. That’s why God’s grace is so incredible. He tells us that he knows our deepest darkest places, and he chose to die for us anyways. This picture of his grace can be shown in our closest friendships, and when it does it is amazing.
2) Healthy friendships speak truth.
I was watching TV yesterday where one friend was upset because the other friend was not being “supportive”. The other friend begins to tell them how their actions will lead to pain and turmoil, and naturally this started to create a divide.
The problem is that we live in a culture where if you aren’t supporting you are hating, and this is not always the case. I think of God where he saw us running towards death and destruction, and instead of waving at us saying “have a great time hope you have fun,” He plucks us from the road and He says, “ you were made for more.” Laying down our life for our friends means getting into the muck and the mire of sin and destruction. Lovingly calling out sin for what it is, and absolutely not using it as a weapon or ammunition. Instead, calling out the sin and calling in our loving and redeeming savior who can truly fix the brokenness.
3) Healthy friendships are intentional.
Recently my husband and I were hanging out with some friends and before they left they pulled out their phones and said “ we really love spending time with you guys. Would you like to look at our schedules and pick out the next few times we can hang out so they are already set in place?” I remember my heart literally burst with happiness because there is so much appreciation that comes when being intentionally pursued. People nowadays do not value intentionality because everything is based off of convenience and comfort. Living a life for Christ is not convenient and it’s definitely not always comfortable, so we should not ask our friendships to be the same.
4) Healthy friendships respond to reproof.
Pride is something that we all have. Laying down our lives means being willing to put pride to death, for the ability to be teachable. I have had to learn in both my marriage and my friendships that if I am not able to respond graciously to reproof I am walking a very fine line of coming heartache. God uses the analogy of being trimmed and pruned in The Bible to display how he is cleaning up our lives, to make us more like him.
When your friendships are truly centered on Christ being able to have room for reproof is so incredibly crucial. Friends can be used for course correction. And when the red flag is being waved by your friend who has shown to love and care for you as Christ does. This is a great time to slow down, get your desires in check, and allow truth to be spoken.
5) Healthy friendships build each other up in the gospel.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
On the very first day that my small group and I got together we made a covenant with one another that our time together would be full of laughter, stories, and chocolate. But most importantly our time together would be going after the mission of pursuing God’s kingdom. Friendships in Christ need to be centered on Christ. This means that there is encouragement and scriptural truth being spoken often if not daily.
There needs to be a greater vision for what your time together looks like and so if that means a shopping trip while talking to each other about what God is doing in their life, how they are pursuing the expansion of his kingdom, and how they can pray for each other. AWESOME. There is so much room and freedom in that. How your time is spent together will show by the end of the day when you go home and reflect. Usually I have found that when I am encouraged, convicted, or both our time spent together was God glorifying.
Share this post with a friend of yours and maybe you guys can talk about the areas you are doing great, or maybe the areas you may need improvement! Either way remember God is good and there is grace.
Melanie Castanada is a wife and blogger in Illinois. Read more at her blog: www.somethingaboutjesus.com.