I was recently asked the question “How do you find and build Godly friendships?” and my mind immediately starting thinking about my friends. I began to think about the beginnings of my friendships: how we met, how we got close, and how I discerned that these were good friends for me. To better answer the initial question, I think it’s best that we look at each part of the question…
How to find Godly friends
I wish I could give you a specific formula for finding Godly friends. It’d be nice if I could just say “Talk to the people at your church because that’s where God’s people are!” but the reality is that God’s people are everywhere! I have some friends that I met at church, but I also have friends that I met outside of church. I have friends at school, friends at dance, and friends that I know because someone introduced us! You can find your friends anywhere because people are everywhere, and it’s not hard to find them!
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”Proverbs 4:23
The tricky part is discerning if they’re a good friend for you. We meet people all the time, but not all people are intended to be in your inner circle. This is not meant to be mean! The Bible tells us that “a companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20) and “bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). It’s important that we guard our hearts because “everything that we do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). The people that you surround yourself with will have an influence on you. There’s no doubt about that! So, we must be careful about who we befriend.
I don’t want you to take this to mean that as a Christian you can only be friends with Christians because (1) that’s just not realistic in a world where the majority of people are not Believers and (2) how are we supposed to be a light to unbelievers if we don’t befriend them? I am telling you, though, to guard your heart. Not every person is intended to be in your innermost circle. The people who are closest to your heart should be the Christians who are walking with the Lord. The Bible tells us that we will know these people by their “fruits” (Check out Matthew 7:16-20 to get a better idea of what I mean). If a person has experienced an inward change because of God’s grace, it is going to be evident in their outward life. Keep your eyes peeled for the outward fruits of an inward change! These are the people that you seek advice from, ask questions to, and spend the most time with. These people are a gift to you! When we stumble and fall into sin, these are the people who can redirect you back to God’s grace and truth (Ecclesiastes 4:10).
On the other hand, those who are not Christians or who are not showing the “fruits” of being a Christian should not be so close to your heart. These people are unable to give Godly counsel, so they should not be your source of help in difficult times or hard decisions. God is the only one who can provide peace and wisdom, so it’s important that your friends are pointing you to Him. This doesn’t mean that you can’t befriend an unbeliever! I actually think it’s important that we befriend those who don’t know Jesus, but we must do so with a guarded heart! Here’s how we should interact with those people: show them love, be an example, tell them about Jesus, encourage them, be a light, pray for them, etc. You can have an influence! But remember we are not the ones who can change someone’s heart. Only God can do that. Be careful, be guarded, and be intentional to love all believers and unbelievers well.
Building Godly friendships
This part of the question is so fun because I am reminded of how my friends and I got to be so close! As I was hanging out with them and spending time with them, the Lord was continuing to establish in my heart that these were good, faithful friends.
When it comes to building and maintaining Godly friendships, there is no specific formula, but here’s some things that I’ve learned through my friendships (remember this is for the Christian friends who are closest to your heart):
- Have fun with your friends! This is probably not something I have to say because it’ll probably come naturally, but I just want to remind you that being a Christian does not mean you have to be serious all the time! There’s definitely a time for that, but there’s also a time to have fun! My friends and I love going to the beach, hanging out in hammocks, grabbing dinner together, simply hanging out at each others’ houses, and pretty much anything spontaneous!
- Be real. If your friends are truly your friends, they will love you for you! Be honest about your hard days and be authentic when you’re with them. You don’t have to pretend to be someone else. God made you unique and you can be confident in who God made you to be!
- Know each other genuinely. This has helped take my friendships to a whole new level. It’s one thing to know your friends favorite color, but your friendships will become so much deeper when you understand them on a deeper level. When you’re comfortable, start asking unique questions like “What was your childhood like?”, “What’s your enneagram/myers-briggs?” (these are tools for understanding personality), “What are your biggest fears?” “What is your life story/testimony?”, etc. One of my favorite memories from my freshman year of college was sitting in a hammock with a few of my closest friends and asking some deep questions to better understand each other. There’s value in being vulnerable with your friends.
- Communicate often. When you’re together, hang out with them (that could probably go unsaid haha), but when you’re apart, send a text, write a letter, call, or FaceTime to communicate what’s going on. It’s hard to be friends if you’re not talking to each other, especially when you’re physically separated!
- Love well. You’re probably thinking “You don’t have to tell me to love my friends! Of course I love them! They’re my friends!”, but my question to you is do you show it? Tell them how much you appreciate them, give hugs, etc. Tell them you love them and show it! Ask your friends about their love language (if you’ve never heard of this, look up “5 Love Languages” because this is super helpful). Learn to love your friends in a way that makes them feel loved!
- Talk about Christianity. You don’t have to shy away from it! Ask your questions, talk about your church experience, share what God’s been teaching you! There’s so much value in talking with other believers about your walk with Christ, and if you are seeking Godly friends it’s important that your friendships are rooted in God’s Word. It can also be a good idea to set aside Bible study time with them! One of my best friends and I love setting aside time for Bible study together because it allows to bond over the thing that is at the center of our friendship!
As I said earlier, there is no specific formula for building the perfect Godly friendship! Every person is unique and every friendship is unique, so it should be treated as such! It’s important that we find other Bible-believing Christians to be our closest friends. God intended us to live in community with one another, and there is so much value in befriending like-minded believers! Alternatively, there is also value in having unbelieving friends. This gives us an opportunity to love them, pray for them, and be a light to them! But we must be so careful to guard our hearts because, friend, your heart is a treasure, and the people that we let close to our heart will influence us in some way.
I hope that through your Godly friendships you are encouraged by how the Lord loves you through His people (: