She had flawless, tan skin. Her hair swished down her back in silky brown perfection (not a frizzy braid like mine). Oversized overalls were her staple attire and, somehow, she managed to make them unfathomably cute. She dazzled everyone with her bright, catching smile.
I was in 7th grade, and I idolized Jenna. I wanted her effortless popularity. I longed to be enveloped into her close circle of friends. All I could ever achieve was some sort of half-hearted, pitiful sidekick role. I felt…on the fringe. Never perfect enough.
When it comes to choosing a friend, what qualities come to mind?
Someone who’s funny? Smart? Godly? Talented? Stylish? Just…whoever’s around?
According to motivational speaker Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This famous quote has circulated through churches, businesses, and leadership training courses because of it’s sobering, inescapable truth.
As Christians, this concept is brought to a whole new, profound level. Let’s face it. There are certain people you hang with who clearly make it easier to pursue Christ-like character. They inspire you towards goodness, truth, selflessness, and love. Then there are others around whom you find it much easier to indulge in opposite qualities such as selfishness, materialism, gossip, and lust.
Proverbs 27:17 says that “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
God knows that friendships can be a total blessing and that you have a hilariously good time. He created it! He also knows that people have been corrupted by sin, thereby complicating relationships.
Solomon, who was the wisest man in the world, was inspired by God to write of friendship in the book of Proverbs. Here are three characteristics of a true, godly friend found in Proverbs:
1. A True Friend Is Consistent.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).
A true friend will be regularly loyal, encouraging, building you up in the Lord. This kind of friendship does not depend on personal style, money, or circumstance. This friend does not play manipulative games with your emotions or affections.
The opposite of a consistent friend is a fickle friend. To be fickle means to be changeable, volatile, undependable, or unfaithful.
2. A True Friend Is Honest
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy… Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel” (Proverbs 27:5-6, 9).
Have you ever told a white lie to gain approval from a friend? I know I have. A true friend is genuine and unpretentious. They do not spread half-truths about others, and they do not twist facts to serve their own interests.
In contrast, genuine friendship is actually prepared to rebuke in love. Flattery is the flip-side of this kind of love — pumping up the other person’s ego in order to gain personal advantage.
3. A True Friend Is Sensitive
“A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle. From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:20-21).
We all know what it is to experience “death” or “life” by the power of the tongue. A friend’s word can stick with us until the day we die. It can be a precious gift or a knife in the back. A true friend will love you with their words, whether speaking to you or about you to others.
Beware of the “friend” who is filled with cutting remarks or down-putting jokes that hit a bit too close to home, and they know it.
So what’s the driving point behind Jim Rohn’s famous statement above?
We will be affected by time-invested relationships whether we like it or not. Therefore, friendships should be intentional. Why? Because friendships are seldom, if ever, neutral. If we seek to honor our Savior with our lives, let us carefully consider the people who will influence our hearts.
Let us also remember that, no matter how consistent, honest, and sensitive a friend may be, they are still a sinful human who may eventually hurt you, disappoint you, or even change. Christ is our ultimate Friend, the greatest Lover of our soul!
In this quest for companionship, ask yourself an honest question: what am I really seeking? When I sought out a friendship with Jenna, my motives were definitely less than pure. Instead of investing in a girl who would challenge me to love Christ more deeply, I was really pursuing temporary popularity.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Answer one of these questions in the comment section below:
- How can you intentionally seek out consistent, honest, sensitive friends?
- Do you struggle with the tendency to be a fickle, flattering, or an insensitive friend?
- Are there any friendships from which you should create a more healthy distance?
- Are there any friendships that you should cultivate with greater intentionality?
Get to know the author, Liz Wickham: I am a young wife living in San Diego, CA with my vivacious, hard-working husband Richard. I am delighted to join the Girl Defined writing team! I love mentoring young women, spurring them on to love and good works for the sake of Christ. God’s gift of music is a never-ending source of joy that I delight to explore. Between choir, piano teaching, and singing…there is always a song for every occasion. My other hobbies include oil painting, decorating, home-making, swing-dancing, cooking, and walking around new places with my husband. Jesus Christ is my Savior, the Anchor of my soul. It is my goal to redeem the time spent in this life by allowing God to bless others through me.