What makes a bond between two people a genuine, biblical friendship? What does the Bible say about friendship?
Use the links below to jump ahead within the article and discover the 7 key elements that are exclusive to building a genuine friendship with other believers.
Since our childhoods, we’ve been creating associations with others. We know how to initiate conversation and find shared interests. But do we know how to move from small talk to intimacy? Can you imagine having the kind of biblical friendship that’s based on commitment, loyalty and pointing each other to Jesus?
Genuine, biblical friendships will transform your life and ignite your faith. Would you like to experience that kind of connection?
Sometimes we feel disconnected and unknown by others; we lack true friendships. As a result, we also feel disconnected from our faith community. In fact, some Sunday morning church attendees arrive alone, worship alone, and leave alone. Is that you? Or maybe you’re a new believer and you aren’t sure how this whole church thing works, let alone biblical friendships.
Can authentic, impactful relationships between members of the body be nurtured within the church community? Can intimate connections develop among an eclectic mix of different people from different perspectives and backgrounds? Jesus says so, and He even reveals the one non-negotiable element for making that happen. Stick around to hear more about that.
For now, let’s explore the principles that will nurture and develop authentic fellowship.
7 Key Elements That Are Exclusive To Building Genuine Biblical Friendships
In 1 Samuel 18-20, the writer explores the dramatic lives of beloved friends Jonathan and David. Their unexpected but sincere friendship beautifully illustrates the bond that is possible between God’s people when they are connected by faith and commitment.
As followers of Christ, we can also focus on developing characteristics in our lives to build genuine biblical friendships with other believers.
1. Be AWARE
Be on the lookout; God orchestrates circumstances and chemistry.
Subconsciously, most of us have a “type” of person we gravitate towards. It likely won’t surprise you that this person is similar to you in looks and age, socio-economic status, educational accomplishments and even hobbies.
But, God might have a best friend waiting for you and they don’t fit into that mold. You haven’t even considered him or her because of those surface details.
Be open to new relationships that God might have for you.
After all, you aren’t seen by your outward appearance by God — He weighs the heart, and He knows what kind of friend will refine and encourage you. Trust Him!
2. Be INTENTIONAL
Authentic community does not happen accidentally. As much as we try to fight it and excuse ourselves from the work of intentional relationships, it’s the stuff of which deep connections are made.
Are you part of a small group? Good.
But that’s not enough.
There’s only so much connecting and growing you’re going to do in a group of eight or ten. Find the one or two people in the group, or in your outer circle, that you feel a connection to, and start pursuing them. Ask him or her to coffee, to meet for a run, or to help you with a project.
Ask God to show you how to connect and then make it happen.
Read more: 1 Samuel 18-20
3. Be HONEST
Being honest means telling the last 10%. A lot of us struggle with being transparent in relationships, but even the most candid person will only go as far as 90%.
Do you have the courage to tell 100% of the truth?
Here’s how you can know you’ve met a lifelong friend: When someone is willing to risk the discomfort and awkwardness and potential cold shoulder from you, and tell you the hard truth anyway.
Because if there’s an issue in your life, I suspect a lot of people around you see it and are aware of it. But it’s the person who’s willing to lovingly bring it to your attention who’s the honest, biblical friend.
Do you have that kind of person in your life? Are you that kind of friend?Experiencing authentic, biblical friendships requires transparency. That means sharing the last 10%. Many of us will be 90% vulnerable with our loved ones, but few will be genuinely transparent. Click To Tweet
4. Be AVAILABLE
This one is relatively easy to spot, but harder to practice. When crisis arrives in the laps of your friends, where are you?
There’s no doubt that difficult times can be uncomfortable and awkward. Are you willing to endure to show your friend you’re available to them?
Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Crisis often reveals who your true friends are.
When crisis comes, there is cost.
When crisis comes, there is sacrifice.
When crisis comes, the people that show up and ask, “What can I do?” are the ones to continue investing in and connecting with.
This is biblical friendship.
5. Be LOYAL
When things get heated or complicated, don’t shrink back.
What’s the cost of loyalty?
You might be in hot water right now and you can relate to people around you lacking loyalty. Or maybe you’re in a complicated relationship and you need forgiveness or help.
A loyal friend demonstrates biblical community by coming alongside you to help you get through the difficult time.Loyalty in relationships is priceless, but so are loyal friends. Click To Tweet
6. Be VULNERABLE
This element is the key to authentic, biblical friendships.
Do you let fear or pride limit your relationships? Vulnerability is basically just taking off a layer to reveal what’s developed underneath your curated exterior.
Here’s one trick to doing it well: get vulnerable with safe people, in appropriate ways at appropriate times and in the right way. Those aren’t rules, they’re healthy boundaries.
7. Be SPIRITUAL
Be willing to point friends to Jesus whenever you can!
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man or one woman sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
Be ready to do the “spiritual stuff” in moments of natural connections, outside of small group or Bible study. Here are a few tips:
- Has a friend come to you to vent or express sadness? Ask if you can pray with him when he’s done sharing.
- When you read a verse and a friend’s circumstances come to mind, text them the verse and share that you’re thinking of them.
- Are you aware of a milestone moment in a friend’s life? Send them a written prayer from you on their behalf.
Praying for a friend during a difficult time? 12 Powerful Scriptures For Spiritual Warfare Resistance
These goals, along with the 7 essential elements, paint a beautiful picture of biblical friendship and authentic community that will change lives.
START A BIBLICAL FRIENDSHIP WITH A COVENANT
What’s the one non-negotiable that Jesus says we must start with? A covenant with God.
Apart from Christ in us, we don’t have the power to be —
We can’t love one another apart from experiencing it with our Creator, so our covenant with God will determine the level of our devotion with people.
Shallow with God, shallow with people.
These people don’t have the capacity to be vulnerable and trusting.
Intimate with God, deep with people.
If you’re secure in Christ, you can be open and transparent and honest.
Ultimately, biblical friendships will differ from other connections because of the example of Jesus. The true test for biblical friendship is commitment and sacrifice for one another.
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Are you ready to give this kind of intentional, God-centered relationship a try? I hope you’ll dive in and experience the blessing and joy that comes with a genuine biblical friendship.
Examine key relationships and how to faithfully come to grips with who God made you to be in my latest Daily Discipleship Series, Momentum. We’ll also tackle the relatable and authentic faith of heroes like Abraham, Daniel and Moses and more.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip