One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the gift of godly friendships.
There is nothing like being able to laugh, cry, learn, lean, be a sounding board for, and encourage a friend. But in our busy world, we tend to not “tend this garden” of friendship.
Instead we neglect it. Books, internet, tv or other mindless activities take us away from face to face visiting.
Friendships can bloom in the oddest places. Visiting an older woman in the nursing home is a prime place for friendship to grow. Or visiting with a younger mother who needs a break.
Of course, there are several levels of friendships that God ordains:
acquaintences- people you see occassionally around town or at your kids soccer game each week
casual friends- They are the ones who you smile and wave and have friendly, light conversation with at church or in the market
But then there are those “iron sharpening iron” friends. They are the ones who challenge your thinking and spur you on to be a better person, and who want to be challenged by you as well. They are the ones who will RISK telling you that you are wrong in a situation, and they are the ones who will be there for you through the long haul.
I recently had a woman tell me that another woman who I thought was a friend had been saying negative, bitter remarks about me behind my back. I wasn’t surprised, because this same woman makes negative remarks about a lot of people. Although I am pleasant when we are together, I made the conscious decision to distance myself from “angry, negative” people several years ago, and it has truly been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Proverbs 22:24-25 Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.
We become like the people we spend time with.
I don’t want to spend time with women who are petty and critical and gossippy. Although I am gracious, I have no interest in that type of friendship. Why? Because besides being sin, that is the opposite of love, which “thinks no evil about a person.” (I am talking about women who have a reputation for being “critical/judgemental/stinky” as a way of life, not just a one time negative remark!)
And I can’t afford to waste my time with that. God says that I need to use my time wisely and to walk with the wise. We are on a mission and that type of sin not only burdens us down and makes us uneffective, but it wounds others.
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.
Although I have been guilty of being negative myself, and I am thankful when my real friends help me to see myself as I really am (sinful), and show me that this is not the path of righteousness. We are proud when we think we can do life alone. I loved this article on friendship by Noel Piper.
I have found that it is very easy for women in ministry to become careless with their tongues because they assume that they are there to give people advice and direction, and in many cases, people do ask you for help. It is easy for pride to slip in here, and in our own minds we can become the ”know it alls”.
This is a dangerous place to be, and if you are in some sort of leadership position, beware of making careless, casual remarks about others. Beware of assuming that you have all the answers and that people want your input. And if you give advice, it had better be done in humility, or you are at risk: God resists the proud. Women will ask for advice if they respect you and your godly lifestyle. In matters of the tongue, we should be an example of how a godly Christian woman uses her mouth, and not act as though we are above the laws of God.
So, if you are looking for a few good friends, here are some things to look for:
1. Someone who uses her lips wisely. The tongue is connected to the heart, so what is coming OUT is what is going on INSIDE. Is she encouraging but truthful? Does she speak negatively about others? When correction is needed, is it done with love, or is she more like a drive by shooting with her words?
2. Someone who is doing good for the sake of others: family, friends, community. Selfishness is not evident in her lifestyle.
3. Someone who is walking wisely, according to scripture: in the word, changed by the word.
4. Someone who you think would be willing to offer and receive godly counsel. There are many who want to speak their mind and get things off their chest, but the real test is how well they receive correction. A scorner hates correction and resists anyone who tries to give it.
Do you have someone in mind? Pray for wisdom and then call them up and schedule a time to fellowship, and don’t let fear stop you. They may be wishing someone would take this step into more meaningful friendships as well!