It is essential to have friends. In Christianity, we mostly view one another as sister or brother and though those handles are fine, there is still the need for friendship. One can be a sister and not be a friend; likewise, one can be a brother and not a friend. How many natural siblings do you have whom you don’t communicate with on a regular basis yet you are still related? The same applies in the Body of Christ; there are siblings and there are siblings and friends. Why is it important to foster friendship? God answers that question by stating that is not good for man to be alone. In other words, the Lord created us with a need for companionship.
You are not alone bearing a testimony of being hurt by a friend. We all have experienced it and some of are walking in that corridor of pain right now. The enemy of our destiny will use the hurt and betrayal of friendship to his advantage. He will amplify those negative feelings and lure us away into seclusion that we shy away from trusting a friend ever again. What we must realize is that we will have moments in our lives when we want to back away from friendships and for certain friendships, yes those seasons will end; however, that is not to say that we will never enjoy the intimacy of friendship again.
With a friendship should come an understanding that you we are still dealing with man. All of mankind is subject to fail. Each of us is subject to error; therefore, even in our friendships, the wholeness of our trust and confidence should be in the Lord, not in our friend. Could it be also that we place too much of a demand on a friend whereas that demand should be placed upon the Lord? Whenever you expect too much from a person, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Strong friendships thrive when there is an understanding of accepting the person for who they are. You must accept their strengths as well as their weaknesses. Some of us can’t handle another person’s weaknesses yet we celebrate their strengths. When we expect a person to show strength all the time, we are placing too high of an expectation of them for even Jesus had moments of weakness.
Jesus demonstrated three levels of intimacy in relationship. He had the three (His inner circle), the twelve (those He mentored), and the multitudes (those who came to listen but were distant in relationship with Him). We can infer from His example that even in our friendships that there three levels of intimacy; those whom we refer to as our best friends, those whom we refer to as close friends, and others who are associates, distant friends. Once we categorize our friendships, it gives each group a distinction that helps us to identify how we proceed. There are things you can share with one group that you may not be able to share with another. There are things you can expect from one group that you may cannot from another because the levels of intimacy are different.
Here is what I hear the Lord to us as it pertains to our friendships.
We all need friends but friendship requires sacrifice as in any relationship. We should not expect from a friend what we are unwilling to give in exchange for friendships are mutual and not one sided. He that desires friends must show himself friendly. Open your heart to friendship but remember to give your whole heart to the Lord. Friendship, as in any relationship, bears certain risks, but know that you were created for companionship. God will empower you for friendship and deliver you when it comes time for separation. Don’t shy away from making friends for each person God brings in your life serves a purpose. When you withdraw yourself from making friends based on past hurts, you rob yourself of a fulfillment that your new friend can offer you. The Lord will show you who to accept as friend and in which category they will fit. Listen to Him and follow His directives. Give your friends permission to be human and forgive them when they sin against you whether the sin was intentional or not. The same mercy you show them will be returned to you in your time of despair. Enjoy the beauty this life has to offer and enjoy it with friends who will come to you from all walks of life.