" Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. " Proverbs 27:17
One of the most difficult areas for Christian women can be in the area of friendships.
What is a true friend and how do I find one? What about my non-christian friends, can I keep them? What are good boundaries for friendships? These are just some of the questions I have wrestled with as I have walked with Christ. It is clear we are not to be without friends because God has made us relational people. We get lonely when we have no one to share our lives and experiences with, even on a superficial level.
The Bible is full of stories of one relationship after another, many of them friendships between two people or even groups of people. Consider David and Jonathan, or Ruth and Naomi in the Old Testament Our Lord was very careful to address every area of our lives in His Word.
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 (NASB)
What makes a good friendship? I think what makes a good friendship is one that is centered on the gospel and modeled after the relationship Jesus had with His disciples. Their friendships were developed over a period of years. We sometimes expect too much too quickly from other women. It takes time to be trusted and to trust someone else.
Something that helps build trust is transparency. The Lord was willing to be transparent with his friends, He revealed who He really was to them! If you want to have a friend you must be willing to be yourself, be what you are like, be like yourself. No real friendship will develop if you are hiding yourself, and protecting yourself from being known by other people. I am not saying give details of things that are intimate or intensely personal; not on a beginning friendship level anyway but you have to let people inside your personal space to be a real friend.
You must be honest with your friends. Share your trials and joys and sorrows with them. If you are fearful of doing so, remember the example of Jesus. The Lord Jesus never lied to His friends, He told them hard stuff even when He knew they would not grasp it all. He told them the secrets of their hearts.
We get to know people when we take time to be with them. Jesus knew the 12 so well because they spent all their time together. They ate, slept, prayed, and traveled together. Our modern Twitters, Face Books, e-mails, and text messages are not enough to build a friendship on! If you want to befriend someone, take the physical time to meet with them face to face as often as you can. Especially in our overly busy world, meeting with someone for coffee or lunch really says you value them.
People who desire friendship will have these attributes in quantity. Some of these will come easier to you than others will. If you find you are lacking in an area, then work on it!
When looking for a friend search for a woman with wisdom.
“For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things cannot compare with her. Proverbs 8:11 (NASB)
Hundreds of verses in Scripture point the Christian toward Wisdom and encourage us to pursue it at all costs. Wisdom is called more precious than gold and jewels (Prov. 3:14-16).
“The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her. “She will place on your head a garland of grace; She will present you with a crown of beauty.” Proverbs 4:7-9 (NASB)
Choosing a wise woman for a friend will bless your life and you will be able to trust her counsel. A wise woman will have the Word committed to her memory and will endeavor to live what she knows. Her life will be characterized by a visible commitment to the truth in spite of what it may cost her. She will take the time to understand your and your position. She will be relational and will desire to know you, and listen to you.
A true friend will love you, just as you are. She won't be afraid to tell you when you sin but she won't condemn you nor condone it. She will lead you in paths of righteousness and try to influence you to do what is righteous for Christ's sake.
A true friend is willing to sacrifice for you. God has blessed me with several women who have sacrificed and given of themselves in so many ways! They painted and cleaned along side me, they provided meals and transportation, and they provided finances when I had no ability to do what needed to be done. I have experienced these things in abundance.
Jesus is our example in all these things. He is the perfect fulfillment of each of these qualities we should both seek in a friend and seek to be as a friend. If you can find a friend who has even a few of these qualities, she is a true friend indeed.