One of the core reasons that God created friendships is because they are a tool that He gave us to help us grow to become more like Christ as we live a life that is pleasing to Him. There are other ways and tools that God has given us, but friends are one of the things that He gave in the progressive sanctification process. Sadly, the idea that growth is going to be a part of the friendship process is not always a part of the reality in some ‘friendships’. Sometimes friends just want to “have fun” and are not concerned with encouraging one another to become more like Christ. In this post, we will look at why growth is not only a natural part of friendships but essential because, without people in your life who encourage you and even challenge you to become more like Christ, then a solid and lasting friendship will be challenging at best.
Friends Help with Blindness
One of the most challenging aspects of trying to become like Christ is that there is, in all of us, blind spots that we simply cannot see unless someone else points them out to us. So many of the life-lessons that I have been taught, and required me to turn around, have come from friends who saw areas of my life that I thought was completely fine. They could see something that I could not, and they had to speak truth into that area. Without them doing that, I would have lived with that area being sinful for who knows how long. Galatians 6:1 reminds us that “those of you who are spiritual” – meaning that there are areas where some of us are not walking by the Spirit and we need others, who are, to point out those shortcomings.
However, for friends to help with that blind spot, they have to have the courage and the love for both Christ and their friend to be willing to say something. In too many relationships we end up loving ourselves too much that we do not want to risk the friendship by saying something (or asking questions). Christ calls us to love our friends more than we love ourselves, and part of loving someone is saying something even if we are not sure how it will turn out.
Friends Point to Christ
So then, if we are to love our friends more than we love ourselves, we must constantly be pointing them to Christ. He is where we will find our most joy, satisfaction, and pleasure in life. If we truly care for our friends, if we truly want what is good for them, then whenever we see them living for something other than the most satisfying person—we will point them to Christ no matter what.
When we don’t point our friends to Christ, if we point them to something else or if we just fail to say anything, what we end up doing is living a life that says we know better than Christ. That sort of pride has to be rooted out of all friendships.
Friends Share their Hope
Lastly, friends share the hope that they have received from God to minister to their friends (2 Cor. 1:3-4). When God works in the life of one of the friends, one of the best ways that he can minister to his friends is by sharing that hope. One of my friends is the guy I work with, Stefan Nitzschke. On a regular basis, he asks me what are you learning in scripture. He gets the concept that the hope that we are each finding in scripture can be a powerful tool to help the other person grow in Christ. So many times when we share what we are learning in the Bible, we end up both being edified to be like Christ in that process.
Consider asking yourself when was the last time you were purposeful with your friends. How often are you trying to point them to Christ? How often do you ask hard questions in their life? Questions like: what are you worshiping more than God? Why is it that you are investing so much of your time, talents, and treasure into that activity when it is not something that is pleasing to God? What are the steps that you are doing to put off that action that is not pleasing to God?
Perhaps you are asking questions to your friends and have spent time probing their heart. Consider then if you can use times to point them to Christ. Maybe that looks like sending a text to them and reminding them of some truth that the both of you have been working on considering. Or reminding them that they are about to go into a hard situation (perhaps you knew they had a meeting with their boss) and so you sent some scripture that was meaningful to you.
Make sure that your friendships are filled with you helping each other grow to be like Christ. It doesn’t have to be the only thing that you do, but it is an essential part of friendship.