How to be a true friend

1075970_82532174rev

When asked to speak on the friendships of woman I got a little nervous. I have messed up and made many mistakes in the area of being a good friend. Thankfully, the Lord has used some of those mistakes to teach me. While I still have a lot to learn, I hope that I am a better friend today than I was twenty years ago.

One of the most important and helpful things I have learned regarding friendships is that I cannot control others. I can’t control if someone wants to be my friend. I can’t control their reactions or words or choices. I can’t control if they are nice to me or mean to me.

I can only control myself.

With that in mind, I offer this condensed version of what I spoke on this morning at a local MOPS group.

How do I become the best friend I can possibly be for my friends? How do I become a true friend to those who are so important to me? As a bonus, this is a great way to become a great husband or wife, as well!

I have used each letter in the word friend to remind us of a few of the characteristics of a true friend.

F – FORGIVE

Matthew 6:14-15“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Friendship is impossible without this word. In fact, ANY healthy relationship is impossible without this word. Forgiving can be very difficult. True and complete forgiveness can only come when God works in our hearts. If you have a friend you haven’t forgiven, pray about it. Ask for a forgiving heart.

R – REPAIR what’s broken

Ephesians 4:2-3with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Repairing is part of forgiveness. But it is also part of a normal relationships, where misunderstandings and hurt feelings abound. True friends make an effort to stay friends. Friendship takes work. If there is a falling out, someone needs to take the first step. Sometimes there isn’t really anything to be forgiven, but simply a misunderstanding. Someone needs to humble themselves first. You be that one. Be willing to apologize! YES, It can be awkward, uncomfortable, and downright unpleasant! And sometimes, it doesn’t go well.

But we need to do what we can do, as much as it up to us. I often think of that verse, in Romans 12:18–

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

You see, things don’t always turn out like we want. But that doesn’t excuse us from doing the right thing.

I – IMPROVE each other

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

I am not talking here about FIXING one another. None of us likes to be someone’s “project” (a good thing to keep in mind for spouses, too!) No, I am thinking more of the idea of helping one another become more godly. We should have an enhancing effect, rather than a detrimental one. And this is not only by giving godly advice or honest criticism, although there is occasionally a place for that.

No, it is more than that.

I can think of a dear friend immediately who makes me a better person just by being around her. She is godly and humble. She is joyful and pleasant. She says she wants to please the Lord in all she does and her life choices match her words. When I’m around her, it rubs off on me and she encourages me to be more godly without ever saying a word.

E – ENCOURAGE each other

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

This is so important! Use your words to build your friends up. So often, we use the 15000+ words we speak per day to complain, gossip, or brag (build ourselves or our children up). But rarely do we use our words to encourage. There is so much competition between moms. I remember hearing it on the soccer sidelines. I remember hearing it in church groups. But we aren’t supposed to be in competition, we are supposed to be lovingly encouraging one another.

Oh, the power in our tongues! James puts it so succinctly in chapter 3, verses 4&5:Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

We can choose to build up or we can choose to tear down. I want to encourage with my words.

We can encourage with more than words, too. How about taking care of the children when our friend needs to be with her sick mother? Or taking a meal to them when they are sick? Or giving rides without expecting a returned favor? Perhaps it is just making time in our busy schedules for a cup of coffee or a lunch date together. There are so many ways we can offer encouragement to our friends.

N – NOTICE what’s going on

Matthew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

The purpose of these verses is not to show us that Jesus cares about the little stuff but instead to show the absolute sovereignty of God. Not a sparrow falls without God knowing it. How amazing is that?! But am I stretching it to suggest that this shows that Jesus obviously does care about the details?

And if Jesus cares about the small stuff, shouldn’t we?

Let’s make an effort to notice the little stuff– our friend’s hairstyle change, her new shirt, her child’s new accomplishment–and offer kind words.

And let’s notice the not-so-little stuff– Perhaps you haven’t heard from your close friend for awhile. If this is unusual, call her and make sure she is okay. Perhaps she was unusually quiet when you ran into her at the store. Show her that you notice. If she doesn’t want to talk about it, just let her know you care and are praying (and then make sure you are!)

Noticing goes hand-in-hand with encouraging. We can’t encourage if we don’t notice what is going on in the lives of our friends.

D – DON’T DWELL on real or imagined offenses

I Corinthians 13:5 {Love} does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (NIV)

So let’s say we are offended by something our friend says or does. It happens to all of us at one time or another. They speak sharply to our child (how dare they??) or they make a comment about our husbands or our homes or our family and we can feel the hackles go up in our neck. We grow quiet and we start sulking a bit.

Or we hear that somebody said that somebody said that SHE said she doesn’t think we are doing a good job raising our kids. And, suddenly, without knowing the context or details of the actual conversation, we have decided we don’t like HER after all.

But is that honoring to God?

We need to control our thoughts. We can’t dwell on our hurts and our real or imagined offenses.

Life is way too short for that. So they said something hurtful or did something you didn’t like. Do you imagine that you haven’t done the same thing at one time or another? We all do things without thinking sometimes.

Let it roll right off your back.

Long and lasting friendships depend on both of you being able to ignore offenses.

DISCLAIMER: Of course, there are some things that happen between people that need to be dealt with. That’s where forgiveness and repair come in. But I am talking here about the stuff people say that they don’t even realize is hurtful. They don’t realize their tone or how it sounds.

Or the stuff we hear that’s 15 people down the line. The exaggerated story is probably nothing like the actual truth and yet we get all up in arms and choose to end friendships over it. If you are going to choose not to talk with your friend about what you heard then your only other {healthy} option is to LET IT ROLL :)

 

In conclusion, this list is my no means exhaustive. I find myself wishing there was an “L” in the word friend because LISTENING is so very important in being a good friend. But this list will, hopefully, get us started thinking about how we can be a better friend.

Friendship is a beautiful gift from God. I have been so blessed through the years with many friendships. Even when I’ve been hurt and the relationship has been severed, I believe the hurt was worth the relationship. But I can’t talk about friendship without making sure to mention that we will never find our fulfillment in our earthly friendships. All friendships will disappoint us at one time or another.

Friends come and go, but Jesus is the friend that is always there. He will never leave you or forsake you.

Let me close by sharing the 2nd verse of the well-known hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
 

I truly hope you know Jesus as your Savior and friend. If you don’t but would like to know more about it, please feel free to e-mail me at leslie {at} growing4life {dot} com. I would be privileged to share God’s wonderful plan of salvation with you!

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: