At the heart of friendship is first a relationship. Not every relationship turns into a friendship. Some relationships are just acquaintances, and, for some people, a relationship turns into the highest form of friendship: marriage. But understanding what makes a good friendship and why that friendship is important is not something that is often thought about or understood. The intent of this series is to examine the components of friendship (a.k.a. the friendship ‘ingredients’). Like making a cake, what are the ingredients that are needed to make a friendship? How much of the ingredient is needed? Do certain friendships have different ingredients and how do we know which is most vital to making the friendship ‘cake’ rise?
The Ingredients of Friendship
There is no list in scripture that lays out what makes a good friend. There’s not a sermon that Peter put together on what makes meaningful friendships last. But just because we don’t find a report like that in scripture, doesn’t mean we can’t see valuable principles in scripture that form the bedrock of good relationships. Like making a cake, each friendship ingredient is equally important in the cake’s outcome (if you want it to hold together and taste good, you have to use all of the ingredients required of the recipe). Cakes come in all sorts of colors, flavors, sizes, and so on. However, you can tell by looking at it that it is a cake. Then, when you taste it, you can tell if it is good (in other words, you can tell that it was baked correctly with all of the needed ingredients). The point is, friendships will look different for different people, and they will even look differently for the same people over periods of time. No two friendships are exactly alike but, just because they are different, that doesn’t make them bad. However, you can’t have a cake without flour. You can’t have a cake (well, a real cake that is) without sugar. The same basic ingredients are used in building the ‘foundation’ of any cake. So, while some may be sweeter than others, there’s still sugar in the recipe (I mean, who has ever heard of a spicy cake? Is that a thing?)
I have identified eight key ingredients that are needed for the foundation of a friendship. Each of these ingredients are essential for a friendship to survive and thrive. Each ingredient will be elaborated on more specifically, regarding what they mean and why they are so essential, in the posts to follow as part of this series.
Do you use these ingredients in your friendships?:
1. Regular Fellowship – this is ‘quantity’ time. The idea being that you must spend time together.
2. Purposeful Intimacy – this is ‘quality’ time. The idea being that you must go beneath the surface and have a purpose in your friendship.
3. Genuine Affection – you must actually care for a person to have a friendship.
4. Mutual Pursuit – there must be a desire to be in the relationship for a friendship to occur.
5. Spontaneous Care – the relationship can’t just revolve around predetermined times of care, but that person must be in the heart and mind of the person with a willingness to help and support when it’s needed spontaneously.
6. Sacrificial Service – love and service to friends can come at a cost.
7. Focused Growth – friendships serve multiple purposes, and one of them is to make you like Christ. Without fulfilling the purpose, we don’t really have a friendship.
8. Transparent Vulnerability – without vulnerability, you will never be able to have a deep friendship that is more than veneer. These relationships will never last.
Why are Friendships Valuable?
Friendships serve a purpose. Like with everything that we assign value to, we have a reason for why we believe it to be valuable. We may not always be aware of every reason, or the true reasons, for its value, but we’ll know some. I’ve identified a few reasons why our friendships valuable.
First, they are valuable because they help you become like Christ. When you are in a friendship with a person you are trying to help them, and they are trying to help you as you both become more like Christ. There are many ways that we try to become like Christ and being in a relationship with someone is one such way.
A second reason that friendships are valuable is that they provide a fertile ground to show the love of Christ to another person. If we are called to be image bearers of God, then when we are in relationships with other people this is a chance for us to live out our purpose. To show love and serve them, to bear burdens is a way in which we manifest God to the world.
Finally, a third reason (and we could list more) is that they are enjoyable. God wants us to enjoy His creation and what He has given to us. He doesn’t want us to simply go through life just bearing our burden only. He wants us to enjoy the many blessings that He has given to us, and one such blessing is the gift of friendship. Being in deep and meaningful relationships is a gift of God and nowhere is that clearer than in the relationship of marriage.
In the coming posts, we will seek to open up and explain these key ingredients to what is needed in a Biblical Friendship as well as lay out some practical steps that you can take if you are not doing well in this area of these relationships.