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3 Signs of a True and Godly Friendship

By: Liz Wickham

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.

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13 Responses to 3 Signs of a True and Godly Friendship

  1. Amy says:

    It’s hard to find genuine friendships. I had a complicated ‘friendship’ with a guy who is a Christian but he has strict rules in how we should dress and act as Christians. I enjoyed his friendship but we’d always argue and have debates on things like what movies were Godly for example. I care about this guys life and salvation but needed to distance myself. I never seemed to measure up as following God whole heartedly in his opinion

  2. Amy says:

    All three of those qualities are important, but confusing when wrapped up in a legalistic package. It’s best to wait on God to bring people into our life’s when we are intentional and prayerful

    • Liz Wickham says:

      Amy, thank you for bringing up the concept of prayer and God’s guidance. There have been countless times in my life when I’m sure God brought a friend into my life for a specific purpose. Many times, it was after I prayed to Him for a friend. He is so good! My intention was not to create a legalistic package, but rather to encourage wisdom and intentionality when it comes to the friends with whom we spend the most time.

      • Amy says:

        Liz: I meant that the guys ideas were Legalistic as he wanted me to change my clothes style
        and certain things I enjoyed. He said I needed to change cause he thought it was in Gods word.
        Though God gives us a free will to choose our clothes and interests and is not as black or white on
        personal convictions.

  3. Grace Obe says:

    I just moved across the country, from Virginia to Utah. I find that God has been guiding me through friendships, and it can be a rough, confusing path. Which friendships should not continue because they cannot survive the distance, or I’ve outgrown them? Which friendships should I start with godly people here in Utah? How do I become a person who is a great friend? All of those questions are being answered for me as I walk through this lifelong journey of loving Jesus and His people. This post contains some great insights and honesty.

    To answer one of the discussion questions, yes, there are a few friendships that I should cultivate with greater intentionality. Putting forth that effort will only benefit my life and the lives of those people I call “friends.” I know I won’t be disappointed. My trust remains in Christ, that He will make it obvious which people are intended to walk through this life with me, and He will bless us with each other’s counsel and company.

    • Liz Wickham says:

      Grace, I totally hear you! I too have experienced loneliness and uncertainty after a change in life seasons. Keep praying for awesome, godly friends who will stand the test of time! Praise God for your heart to seek His wisdom in this area.

    • Virtue says:

      This is great thank you! I’ve moved a lot! And actually have lived in VA and Utah! I’m struggling now with friends….

  4. Sophia says:

    Two years ago my best friend moved to Virginia, and it wasn’t until after she moved away that I had realized everything God had done through her to change me. When she left I thought’d I’d be alone (I like to stick to one friend mainly). But eventually I began to meet a variety of people I’d been acquainted, and I learned which relationships to pursue and which to not pursue based on their loyalty and sensitivity.

    The most important thing I learned is that there’s no better friend than the friend who wants to make YOU BETTER. I strive to have friends like that and be friends like that. Also, if you’re in a lonely place in your life right now, trust me, God will provide.

    Thank you, Liz, for discussing this topic! It’s been a recurring theme in my life!

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s sort of confusing sometimes, the whole friendship thing. I have had a lot of people I thought were ‘forever friends’ leave and fall out of touch and some who were never really friends to me, I feel like the enemy has used those experiences to further cheat me out of some good ones I could’ve had because I’m afraid to trust. Its been a prayer point of mine for three years now; to find a good friend. I believe in God’s timing but I’m afraid that when the friend does come along, I may again miss him/her because I’m scared of getting hurt. I tend to protect myself as well, so if I meet someone whose opinion is important to me I feel the need to please/impress them to keep from getting hurt by their disapproval or disappointment in me and in turn start resenting them because of the form of control they have over me. As I said the whole friendship thing is confusing. I’m about ready to give up, your post couldn’t have come at a better time.

    • Ivy says:

      I’ve had the same struggle. It can be so discouraging because I’ve had people tell me that i should only look to Jesus but I struggle because I want to have a relationship where we can be accountable to one another and encourage each other. And like you, it’s ended for one reason or another, which I thought would be something that could be worked through.

  6. Tiffany says:

    When I moved back home from college, I REALLY struggled to find friends my age in my area. I started attending a young adults group when I switched churches, and while I started feeling connected, I longed for closer friendships – the iron sharpens iron type. I made a list of people I wanted to grab coffee with or get to know a little better. So I started making myself reach out to one or two people from my list every week. At first, this was a difficult thing for me to do, because I am not the most outgoing person you will ever meet. BUT the young women (i.e. 19-24 year olds; I am 25) I have been able to meet with have blessed my socks off! In just the past 6 months, I have had several beautiful friendships blossom… All because I wanted to have God-centered interactions and because I trusted that God would use my little effort to step out of my comfort zone and bless it. Now reaching out to someone feels so natural! When someone new comes to our young adult group, I am genuinely excited to meet them, to remember their name, and to connect with them in a way where God will hopefully touch them through me. I know what it was like to be lonely, to feel like no one really cares. I think Satan uses those feelings to isolate us, but with a little intentionality, I have been given this incredible opportunity to speak into peoples’ lives – people who maybe feel or have felt that way but no longer have to once they experience Christ’s love!

    • Ruth Jackson says:

      It was a struggle for me too, returning home from college. Though my problem was that there simply wasn’t anyone my age in my church anymore. So I had to look elsewhere. I had friends at work eventually but none of them were Christians. Your post made me think about how I could be a friend to those new in the bible study group I’m in. I moved to Colorado and have found an amazing, encouraging group of young adults that have been a blessing in so many ways. I, too, am not an outgoing person when it comes to meeting new people. When I know the person, I am outgoing, but that first step is still difficult for me. I typically wait for someone to talk to me before introducing myself. I will keep this in mind. Thanks for sharing!

  7. gia says:

    Hello, my name is gia. i attend a church not too long ago and became good friends with the main youth leader who has helped me tremenedously with my mental illness and was very heplful with support and great advice. i saw hope in her and i realized jesus really loves me by introducing me to her. i felt the spirit of Jesus move in our lives, however she suffers from depression and she needs help. she kicked me out of the youth group for no apparent reason. please pray for her , her name is heather . i would love to go back to cornerstone. but apparently Jesus doesnt want us to be friends anymore. 🙁

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