The meaning of friendship has become a constantly searched topic for me recently. I have had many different kinds of friends throughout the years and yet, many of those friendships were not Biblical in their fruit. Many a time has a friend been angry with me for telling them the truth about something they did not want to hear. Because of instances like these, it has caused me to think about the purpose behind my friendships and relationship with people in general. I was always confused (and still am) at why my friends were upset because I thought that's what friends were for; to encourage, to love, to counsel, and to sharpen.
When I was younger, friendship equaled playing; whether it was dress-ups, tag, mud wars, or really anything. As I grew older, the playing stopped for the most part and friendship then equaled "hanging out" and talking. However, the talking part was never glorifying to God in any way; our discussions were mostly meaningless, frivolous chatter about whatever was going on in our lives. Now, friendships mean something so different to me! I have learned that friendship is something more than having someone to talk and laugh with, although those things have their part in friendships. It is where people are not afraid to speak the truth in love to one another, to admonish, to learn from, to care for, to pray with, to bear burdens, and to encourage each other. How am I supposed to do all this for my friend if all we talk about is the latest movie or creative project? Bearing each others burdens is much easier to do if it is based on a foundation of prayer and trust with the other person. Talking about movies and projects are not bad in and of themselves but if that is all you talk about with your friend, you will never be able to bear burdens or pray together. In fact, you will never truly know the person because conversation is then limited to "what's going on in my life" only. As a result of that, pride becomes an even larger pitfall.
I regret the time spent over meaningless talk and wasted time. It has taught me to choose friends carefully, to value the true ones I have, and to guard my tongue with much diligence. In my experience, it is very easy for young women to be consumed in conversing about silly things and be satisfied with that. Our culture has taken friendship and turned it into a monster; either you are best friends or you are enemies. Gossip has gone and taken people captive, especially women. I remember, even among professing Christian friends, gossip being the normal talk.
Approaches to friendship should be Biblical; hence, the verses above. But with those who are not saved, the situation can be difficult. I still have friends who are not saved and I pray for them but my friendship is different with them. They don't understand what it means to speak the truth in love to each other or to encourage one another. It is difficult to be compassionate towards them and love them unconditionally and I often ask myself, "why am I still friends with them?". It is hard to answer that because if a person is not willing to let me counsel or sharpen them and vice-versa , then why are we still friends? It is easy to get downcast about such a topic but remember that we can only pray for them and be an example of believers in Christ. We must relaim "friendship" and incorporate it into our own relationships.
I love all the friends I have now, from church and other places. They have shown true friendship to me. Thank you, Lord, for people who are willing to correct, bear burdens, encourage, and challenge me!