How do our friendships flow? Would our friends consider us trustworthy? Is honesty pressed hard on our lips when we speak to our network of friends? How about loyalty? Does it walk hand-in-hand with us in our relations?
We all have differing experiences with friendships. Even children do. Some of those relationships prove enjoyable and beneficial - others, not so much. But what makes great friendships really great? What makes them flourish? What qualities help us create healthy friendships?
Jesus’ relationship with us is a solid first stop. He is the Friend of all friends and the perfect example to help us create healthy friendships. Here are five attributes Jesus and the Bible offer to help us with this relationship endeavor:
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant doesn’t know what his lord does. But I have called you friends, for everything that I heard from my Father, I have made known to you. John 14:13-15 WEB
Jesus’ friendship with us starts with a solid foundation: love. It’s love of the brotherly or good will kind. Our friendships with others can also be erected on love.
When we intentionally think of the other person and reach out to them proactively, we’re displaying a form of brotherly love. In fact, that’s when friendships form – when one party reaches out to another. Love proves a solid quality in helping us form good friendships.
He who goes about as a tale-bearer reveals secrets; therefore don’t keep company with him who opens wide his lips. Proverbs 20:19 WEB
Who doesn’t desire a trustworthy friend, one that won’t spill our private conversations? Leaked confidential exchanges put a strain on or sever relationships. Trust is lost, often right along with the friendship.
A trustworthy friend allows us to set down our guard. We can be “real” with them, knowing our discussions will stay between the two of us.
He who is truthful testifies honestly, but a false witness lies. Proverbs 12:17 WEB
Sometimes hard words are hard to hear – even when it’s the truth. But those words may be precisely what we need at the moment.
I once asked for prayer in a very specific way. All but one of my friends agreed to that request. That one friend, however, couldn’t agree. She felt the Lord prompting her to pray differently. Even though I didn’t want to hear the words she offered, they were honest and right. In the end, her prayers were pinpoint.
A healthy friendship creates an atmosphere where honesty is in tact, a place where we offer and accept hard words. Healthy friendships include honest conversations, motives, and actions. Setting on a foundation of love and building with the trusses of trustworthiness, honesty helps builds firm relationships.
A friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 WEB
Let’s face it; we’re not easy to love 24/7. Neither are our friends. But loyal friends build healthy friendships by loving even when it’s not easy or convenient.
Jesus was loyal to death. That was a big bill to fill. Our loyalty may not resemble a walk to the cross like Jesus’, but it might be hard nonetheless.
There are times when we mess up and miss the mark. Even friends make mistakes. After all, we are human - and humans sin. But how sweet to have a friend who will be by our side even in the midst of our mess-ups. How sweet to be a loyal friend who remains steadfast through the calm and the storms, allowing room for errors and giving face time to forgiveness. Loyalty ranks as a strong attribute in healthy friendships.
Who can say, “I have made my heart pure.I am clean and without sin?” Proverbs 20:9 WEB
Sometimes it’s easy to put on our happy face and pretend all is well. But if you’re like me, that’s not always the truth. To a stranger, I might give a quick answer, but to a friend, I’m much more likely to be downright detailed. I’ll share the nitty-gritty, all that’s swirling inside my thoughts. I’ll be authentic and “real.”
Often, when we’re authentic by sharing our struggles and failures, others open themselves and offer their not-so-nice situations, too. The plastic wall of perfection begins to crumble, and we’re left staring at one another, face-to-face. We begin to learn who our friend is, and they begin to learn who we truly are as well. Our friendship deepens.
Authenticity, along with loyalty, honesty, trustworthiness, and love create a stable atmosphere. This is the place where healthy relationships grow.
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Kristi Woods is a writer and speaker passionate about seeing women walk deeper with God. She clicks her words of encouragement at http://www.KristiWoods.net regularly and is published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions as well as on Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today and on various blogs. Kristi, her retired-from-the-military husband, and their three children survived a nomadic, military lifestyle and have now set roots in Oklahoma. Connect with Kristi here: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.