Call me crazy, but this year has been insane and really put friendships to the test. I’ve really seen some friendships grow stronger and some fade away this year and people surely surprised me in beautiful and supportive ways. One of the things I love most about our creation is that God created us to be in relationship. We are in relationship with Him and each other. James 5:16 talks about our relationship to each other and the benefits we get from being in relationship to one another.
For such a small scripture, it packs a pow powerful punch. There’s a lot to discuss here.
First, James says we are to confess our sins to each other. We are to confide in each other as we struggle. We are not perfect. Sin has made that not a possibility but an absolute. So we need each other so we can stop the struggle alone.
Second, James encourages us to pray for each other. We’re growing our prayer life, expanding our relationship with God and forming a deeper bond with our friends. When we pray for one another we are nurturing some pretty important relationships.
Third, James says the confession of sin and prayer will heal us. We don’t have to struggle alone. We can find healing and peace in Christ and can get there through the help of our friends.
Finally, James mentions the types of friends you should have. They should be righteous because it is their prayers that are powerful and effective. Having faithful friends is the key to overcoming our challenges.
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Now, Jesus was the perfect person and so that would include His friendships. Jesus gave us a perfect model of friendship.
Present and Understanding (John 3:22)
In this passage we see that Jesus ministered to His friends. He was there with them. He understood them. He preached the Gospel to them. They had faith and decided to put their trust in Jesus. The scripture doesn’t say they met and decided to become true followers. No, Jesus was present and invested in His friends.
I know it’s easy to skip seeing our friends. When we’re a mom, a wife, a business owner, a homemaker, a volunteer, a disciple, PTA person, football mom, etc. the list gets full and we can easily brush our friendships aside. I’ll admit, living in a new city in a new state the last few years, it has been important I make a conscious effort to make and keep my friends. My friends in NJ still, we are insanely close. Every time I go home, we catch up and it’s like nothing has ever changed in our relationship despite the different circumstances we are all in.
My point here is that in order to have those solid friendships, we need to be the one that is present and understanding.
Jesus Served (Mark 10:45)
In our world, it’s really easy to take a selfish attitude and ask, “what’s in it for me?” but that’s not the model Jesus gave to us. Instead, He served. He was humble. The Son of God didn’t demand His friends treat Him a certain way. Instead, He showed up in service to everyone around Him.
It’s really easy to set the bar high in our friendships. We may place expectations on people in our lives that are completely unfair. While we shouldn’t accept toxic habits in our lives, we should lead with service and grace. Your friendship shouldn’t be transactional. It should be one of compassion, love, understanding and service. When we change our mindset around our friendship, we can have a friendship centered on the Gospel. We can start to model Jesus’ view on friendship. Jesus was in His right to demand certain things of His friends because of His status in the world, but He never did. He met His friends with selfless compassion and that’s something we can all try to do more of.
Eternal Significance (John 16:33)
This is my favorite thing. We’ve all heard the saying “you’re like the 5 people you spend the most time with,” and in this scripture, Jesus reminds the disciples of their eternal significance. Jesus was sharing eternal truths with His friends consistently so He may one day see them again. He wasn’t afraid to challenge their worldview and preach the true Gospel to them in order to glorify God.
Y’all it’s easy to stumble here. It’s easy to not have those challenging conversations with your friends out of fear of losing a friend or hurting their feelings. But the thing is, we’re doing them a disservice by not sharing the Gospel. Trust me, I have been there. I struggled myself when a friend that had faith turned Pagan. It was a really stressful time where my husband encouraged me to share the truth with her consistently but I hesitated because I didn’t want to cause a problem. But the truth is, I love her and I want to see her in Heaven someday and ignoring the eternal truths, isn’t helping her. It’s hurting her.
We must not be afraid to share what we know is true if we truly love our friends and want the best for them.
Friend, today, I encourage you to really pour into your friendships and serve with a selfless love. Be a true biblical friend and I know God will bless you for it when you’re modeling your friendships after His good and perfect design.
In a world full of sin, we could all use more of those righteous friends James mentioned. How will you be one today?