What a difference a friendship can make! Friends can be intrusive and invasive, or welcoming and positive, depending upon the quality of friends they decide to be to you. Keep in mind, concerning friendships that:
“Our world is much larger than our immediate family. And we cannot pretend to be islands unaffected by everyone else. We affect those outside our families. And they can affect us in return. Our relationships with those beyond our families can affect us both positively and negatively. Sometimes outside influences bring joy to our lives. Sometimes they are heavy weights to bear. But healthy friendships and the ability to interact with those outside the family, on the one hand, and the ability to develop our characters without undue influence from peer pressure, on the other, can all be important values to our lives.”
“God made us to be social beings. The enemy of our souls, of course, wants to break down all social relationships and turn them into chaos. God wants the love we have in our immediate families to expand to the entire human family. In fact, the family is a model for the way all people should relate. It is important to think about how we relate to others, because our relationships can have an influence far greater than we might imagine.” (Jay Kesler, from the book “Family Forum”)
So what kind of friend are you —one who is positive or one who brings negativity into their world?
The Bible says, “A friend loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17) Are you showing love to your friends, and being supportive in their marriage relationships? Maybe your friends don’t have good marriages. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a supportive and prayerful friend. You can be one who pokes holes in the darkness by the way you talk and live out Christ in your interactions with them.
How do you show your love? The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 13, how to live out your love. This is true whether it is in your marriage, or in other relationships, such as friendships, that you have in your life. In The Message, written by Eugene H. Peterson, it is translated in the following way:
“Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. It doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, and doesn’t force itself on others. It isn’t always ‘me first,’ doesn’t fly off the handle, and doesn’t keep score of the sins of others. Love doesn’t revel when others grovel, or take pleasure in the flowering of truth. It puts up with anything, trusts God always, and always looks for the best. Love never looks back, but keeps going to the end.”
Friendships God’s Way
Are you that kind of friend that loves like God tells you to do? Do you have those kinds of friends in your life? If you don’t, then keep looking. Don’t settle for friends that will hurt your life and your marriage. It would be better to be without human friendship, than to compromise the values the Lord wants you to live out. Noah is a good example. He didn’t compromise with his friends, and God honored him for it. If you can be the good influence on your friend and not take up their bad influence, then great! You are God’s light to them. But if you can’t be that kind of friend, then “Be ye separate from them.” (Lot, in the Bible, learned this the hard way.)
How much richer our lives can be if we can find friends that can add to our lives, rather than take away from it! The friendship of David and Jonathon is a good example of a giving friendship. There are others in the Bible as well.
Author Jay Kessler talks about the influence friends have made in his life for the positive (in the book Family Forum).
“Dr Ted Engstrom, one of my spiritual mentors, told me once that every man needs both a Timothy and a Barnabas. That is, he needs a friend whom he can affect in a positive way —like Timothy. And he also needs someone like Barnabas, whom he can walk with, talk with, and share his innermost thoughts and feelings with. There are many Timothies and Barnabases in good men’s fellowship groups.
“I’ve been a part of many such groups. Right now, I meet with a group of guys every Saturday morning just to goof off for an hour and a half. We call it ‘Wasting Time Together.’ We drink coffee, eat pastries, and talk. Sometimes we end up praying or reading the Bible. But we don’t start with an agenda. I think this is important. So when the meeting is over, what we’ve said to one another is, ‘You guys are worth spending ninety minutes with, even though we didn’t have anything specific planned.’ It’s a definite friendship-builder.”
The Friendships of Women
There are women’s groups that meet and do the same thing. And then there are one-on-one times with other friends that hold this type of richness. The point is that we need each other. But we shouldn’t settle for friendships just because we can’t find the right type. Keep looking. Don’t give up. Even if it takes 20 years, it’s a search worth persevering through.
A scripture that tells of the kind of friend you should be to one another is: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:5-6) That means that a friend won’t be false and pretend things are all right when they aren’t. They will openly and respectfully love their friend enough to risk their friendship and help their friend.
A Friendship That Changed My Life
My best friend Jessie did that years ago when she found out that I was separated from my husband Steve. She was a new Christian and said she decided to “risk our friendship” to share the love of Christ with me. And because of the “risk” she took, I now know of the love of Christ personally. One of the first pieces of advice she gave me as a fellow believer and friend was for me to go back home to my husband.
I told her that it would be foolish. “He hasn’t changed, so what’s the use?” She said, “No, he hasn’t changed, but you have. Just read the Bible as it if is true. (I didn’t believe that it was true yet. But she said to read it as truth and eventually God would show me that it is —which did eventually happen.) And start living it out. Let God work on your husband.”
I did just that. And about 3 weeks after being home, Steve wanted to know what had changed me so much in my attitude and the way I interacted with him. I told him of my new relationship with Christ. And the Spirit moved upon him to want the same. This experience forever changed our lives, our marriage, and where we would live for all of eternity.
What a difference a friend can make! My friend Jessie is a close friend that Steve and I will forever be grateful for and appreciate because of the good friend she showed herself to be to us.
Another Scripture on Friendships
Another piece of advice concerning friendships can be found in Proverbs 16:28. In it we’re told, “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” This tells us to be careful of how we conduct ourselves as a friend. Don’t take liberties and say things you shouldn’t. And don’t say things about others that you shouldn’t. It can cause division. No one wants a friend that is one way in front of them and then will tell others of their personal business or will spread lies about them or their spouse. Your friendship will rightly end at that point.
“He who covers over an offense promotes love. But whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” (Proverbs 17:9)
“Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” (Proverbs 4:24)
“If you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, then do this, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Go and humble yourself. Press your plea with your neighbor!” (Proverbs 6:2-3)
Advice on Friendships
Here’s another piece of advice from the scriptures, “Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house. Too much of you, and he will hate you.” (Proverbs 25:17) It doesn’t say never. It says seldom. In other words, don’t be out with your friend or over to his or her house more than you should. It can hurt their marriage, and it can hurt your friendship. Be wise in how much you are together, and how much you live your lives in separate ways.
Sometimes the best support you can give is in small doses and from a distance. (Other times it is the opposite.) God will show you what is best if you ask Him.
To help you further with the concept of friendships and how they influence a marriage, below you will find a series of links we have provided. The first is one that we have posted on the Marriage Missions web site. It concerns having friends that are of the opposite sex. And then another helpful article is found on Lifeway.com. It would be good for you to read and prayerfully consider what they say:
Additionally, Concerning Friendships
You can also find a questionnaire on this web site titled Questions: Guiding Opposite Sex Friendship in Marriage that you might find helpful, as well.
Below are other links to articles you can read, which are from other helpful web sites, concerning various aspects of friendships once you are married. We know it’s a lot to read. But in doing so, you will have more to glean through to better help you in your situation.
To read each one, click onto the one you want to read and then arrow back to click onto the next link you would like to read. Here are the links we hope you will visit:
This first article, which is featured on the FamilyLife.com web site is written by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, and they address:
But, what if you’re having problems with your spouse’s friends? This Focus on the Family article deals with this issue:
And lastly, Lee Wilson gives some great pointers in the following Crosswalk.com article concerning the changes that need to be made once a close friend marries. These are ones you need to consider, even if your friend has been married for a while:
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
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