Friendship is a great blessing the Lord has given us as humans. God created us for community and being able to uplift and encourage each other and go through the storms of life with others is a great gift.
The Bible says that “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17, ESV). The Lord created friendship for adversity. He knew that we should not walk through this life alone and that we would need to be loved and encouraged by others.
We need godly friends for accountability, to call out our sin, to remind us of truth when we forget it, and to help us keep our eyes fixed on Christ. These things can be done both in good times and in bad.
But when your friend is in a time of despair, do you act as a godly or worldly friend?
The Bible gives us some characteristics of a godly friend.
They sharpen you (Proverbs 27:17), they bear your burdens with you (Galatians 6:2), they pray for you (James 5:16), they point you to Christ in all circumstances (Hebrews 3:13), and they do it all without expecting anything in return (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).
A godly friend will also give you biblically sound advice. They will not counsel you to sin and comfort you in a way that is not mentioned in Scripture.
If you explain to them that you are angry with someone, they will not tell you to let your anger fester and to lash out at the individual but will remind you how the Bible says we should handle our anger.
A worldly friend, on the other hand, is likely to counsel you in a way that doesn’t line up with God’s word. They may tell you that sinning in your anger is fine because they should not have treated you the way that they did.
If the Bible gives us the characteristics of a godly friend, then we can assume that a worldly friend would be the opposite.
They will not sharpen you and they will not bear your burdens. They may say that they will pray for you but will not make it a priority. They may fail to point you to Christ and if they do practice these things, their love may have selfish conditions.
Here are some things to consider when determining if you are a godly or worldly friend:
- Are you there for your friend in times of need just so that they will be there when you need them?
- When you say you will pray for a friend in times of despair, do you really make praying for them a priority?
- Do you give them advice that correctly aligns with Scripture?
- Do you comfort them in times of need with Biblical truths or worldly false hopes? (Example: If a friend is going through a breakup, do you remind them of God’s love for them or tell them that loving themselves is really all they need?)
Take some time to really think about how you respond to a friend in despair.
We were created for community. May we rejoice at the gift of godly friends in our lives.