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SPIRITUAL STRENGTH | LIFE LEADERSHIP | REAL RELATIONSHIPS
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This Quick Study Guide contains excerpts from our Keys For Living book on FRIENDSHIP, to offer an immediate overview, concise answers, with biblical hope and practical help.
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IRON SHARPENING IRON
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
What is Friendship?
- Friendship is a reciprocal relationship of liking and loving between two people.
- Friendship is a mutual emotion based on liking—phileo
—The Greek word phileo means “tender affection.”
—Because of Abraham’s faithfulness to the Lord, he was given the unique title “the friend of God,” a philos of God, not a hetairos of God...
- Friendship that is mature also includes agape
—The Greek word agape means a commitment to seek the highest good of another, even when a person has characteristics you don’t like...
“The scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend”
You might have asked, “Why do I need friends?” While studying the effects of stress, researchers stumbled upon the benefits of friendship for women in times of stress. They found that while all people generally possess a “flight or fight” response to stressful situations, women also tend to exhibit a “tend or befriend” response which drives them to look after children or spend extra time with friends.
Women who gather with their friends more frequently or spend more time caring for their children also experience the added benefit of increased oxytocin production, which helps to further provide a sense of calm and well-being. Research continues, but it appears likely that these benefits exclude men due to the effects of heightened testosterone production when stressed.
However, the Bible addresses another benefit of friendship for everyone...
“If one falls down, his friend can help him up.”
The Value of Vulnerability in Friendships
- Courageously choosing to be completely honest in all circumstances (Proverbs 24:26)
- Courageously confessing when you are wrong (Numbers 5:6–7)
- Courageously receiving advice and guidance (Proverbs 1:5)
- Courageously accepting discipline and correction (Proverbs 12:1)
Vulnerability in a Friendship Means...
- Courageously sharing your painful past and present struggles (James 5:16)
- Courageously stating your self-doubts and secret desires (Philippians 1:8)
- Courageously speaking of your strong beliefs and spiritual values (1 Peter 3:15)
- Courageously seeking honest evaluation of your personal strengths and weaknesses (1 Corinthians 2:1, 3–4)
Vulnerability in Your Friendship with God Implies a Willingness to open up to Him by ...
- Courageously confessing your toughest temptations (Psalm 38:18)
- Courageously communicating your troublesome thoughts (Psalm 25:17; 55:16–17)
- Courageously conveying your angry attitudes (Jonah 4:1, 9)
- Courageously confiding your locked-away longings (Psalm 38:9)
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
How to Initiate Possible Friendships
- Don’t put God... in a box or underestimate the people you meet. (1 Thessalonians 2:9; Romans 16:6, 12)
- Look for opportunities... to meet other people who share your same values and interests. (Colossians 4:5)
- Be friendly and sociable... by smiling, introducing yourself to people in close proximity to you, and by inviting people to your home for social events. (1 Peter 4:9–11)
- Relax and just be yourself... Trust God to make you a person of interest to whomever would be a positive person in your life. (Proverbs 13:5)
- Eliminate expectations... of any kind and make it your goal to develop skills that will help you make conversation when around new people. (Matthew 7:12)
- Do … Recognize that you need wise friends.
“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
- Do … Look for others in need of a friend.
“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
- Do … Ask God to bring a faithful friend into your life.
“If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
(1 John 5:14)
- Do … Be approachable by smiling at others.
“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.”
- Do … Speak to others by name. (Jesus speaks to you by name.)
“The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
- Do … Listen attentively to others.
“[There is] a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
- Do … Give genuine compliments and encouragement.
“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.”
- Do … Ask open-ended questions.
- “What do you like most about your job?”
- “Who has been the best influence in your life?”
- “What would you change about your childhood?”
“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.”
- Do … Help others verbalize their feelings.
- “I sense that you are hurting.”
- “Has something difficult happened in your life?”
- “How do you feel about what has happened?”
- “I want you to know that I care.”
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.”
- Do … Look for the kernel of truth in your friend’s criticism.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” —Dale Carnegie
- Don’t wait for others to reach out to you.
“God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”
(2 Timothy 1:7)
- Don’t share just facts … share your feelings.
“Recently, I have had trouble with.…”
“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.”
- Don’t expect everyone to like you.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”
- Don’t expect your friends’ friends to be your friends.
“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
- Don’t focus on your interests, but ask about the interests of others.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
- Don’t be quick to voice your own opinions.
“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.”
- Don’t harbor unforgiveness over offenses.
“He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”
- Don’t share negative information about others.
“A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”
- Don’t look to a friend to meet your needs for love, for significance and for security.
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be
- Don’t let your friend take the place that God alone should have.
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
Barriers to Intimacy within Friendships
- Fear of being vulnerable
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
- Fear of personal disclosure
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).
- Fear of taking risks
“In God I trust and am not afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” (Psalm 56:4).
- Fear of repeated rejection
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18).
Pros and Cons of Electronic Communication
Positive aspects of electronic communication:
- Permits you to choose when and how you will communicate with someone.
- Prospects of staying in touch with loved ones are increased.
- Provides avenues for communication and friendship.
- Prepares you to connect and communicate through different mediums.
Problems that can arise:
- Personal interaction is missing.
- Precludes actual time spent with family and friends in person.
- Potential loss of sensitivity occurs when a person takes a phone call or responds to a text (or texts) while with another person.
- Perceptions can be misunderstood because facial expressions and tone of voice are not able to be perceived in person.
The Codependency Checklist
- Do you struggle with feeling loved, and therefore you look for ways to be needed?
- Do you throw all of your energy into helping another person?
- Do you feel compelled to take charge of another person’s crisis?
- Do you feel drawn to a person whom you think needs to be rescued?
- Do you have difficulty setting boundaries with another person and keeping them?
- Do you find it difficult to identify and express your true feelings?
- Do you rely on another person to make most of the decisions?
- Do you feel lonely, sad, and empty when you are alone?
- Do you feel threatened when the person closest to you spends time with someone else?
- Do you refrain from speaking in order to keep peace?
- Do you fear conflict because it could cause you to be abandoned?
- Do you become defensive about your relationship with another person?
- Do you feel “stuck” in your relationship with another person?
- Do you feel you have lost your personal identity in order to “fit into” another person’s world?
- Do you feel controlled and manipulated by another person?
- Do you feel used and taken advantage of by another person?
- Do you plan your life around another person?
- Do you prioritize your relationship with another person over your relationship with the Lord?
Freedom from a Codependent Friendship
- Recognize that you are overly dependent on another person, then choose to place your dependency on God. (Mark 12:30)
- Examine your patterns of codependent thinking. (Ephesians 4:25)
- Let go of your “super-savior” mentality. (Exodus 18:17–18)
- Extend forgiveness to those who have caused you pain. (Ephesians 4:32)
- Appropriate your identity in Christ. (John 8:36)
- Set healthy boundaries. (Proverbs 27:12)
- Exchange your emotional focus for a spiritual focus. (Psalm 119:35–37).
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Key Verse to Learn
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
Key Passage to Read
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