“Rachel, this is not your monkey. You cannot control what your friend does or thinks. It is not your job to fix her.”
I remember clearly when my dad looked me in the eyes and reminded me of this truth. I was trying to fix my friend, and it was bringing me down.
Looking back, I was trying to find the satisfaction my soul longs for in that friendship. When my friend started struggling, I tried to fix her. I tried to be her savior, while hoping somehow that she would be mine.
That’s not the only time I’ve searched for that “picture-perfect” friend. I have thought that if I can just get the right friend, I will stop struggling. I won’t go through trials anymore. Everything will be perfect.
Why Can’t I Find a “Picture-Perfect” Friend?
I love my people. I love my solid, Christian friends that inspire me in my walk with God. However, none of them can ever satisfy the deepest ache and longing of my soul. Likewise, I cannot satisfy the deepest aches and longings of their souls.
Jesus puts this so well in John 4:13b-14 when He says, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.”
On the other hand, society tells us that if we can just have the right friendship, we will be satisfied. As Kelly Needham said in her article More Than BFFs: When Friendship Goes Too Far, “The world’s BFF is, in all accounts, a functional savior.”
No wonder I am left with an empty feeling when my friendships do not live up to my expectations! If I look to my friends to be my savior or try to be their savior, I will always be left hanging.
I’ll always be like the donkey with the carrot dangling right in front of his face. It’s so close he can smell it. So, he takes one more step, and another, and another, because surely the next one will be the one that will get him to the carrot.
That’s not how God designed friendships to be.
What do Good, Godly Friendships Look Like?
A good, godly friendship should not be about us. Instead, it should aim to be more about Jesus and less about us. As Kelly Needham also said in her article, godly friendship is achieved when “Christian friends link together with the goal of pushing each other toward the wellspring of Christ.”
In Matthew 22:37b-39a, Jesus explains the outline for all of our lives, including friendship. “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”Godly friendship doesn’t start with friends. Godly friendship starts with cultivating the most important relationship—our relationship with Jesus. Click To Tweet
Godly friendship doesn’t start with friends. Godly friendship starts with cultivating the most important relationship—our relationship with Jesus. We do this by spending time daily in God’s Word. When our days begin with Jesus, and we are constantly choosing to orient ourselves to Him, then our friendships begin to be God-centered.
Once we lose the carrot by letting Jesus satisfy our deepest aches and longings, we can point each other to Jesus instead of trying to fix each other.
How do we do this?
Four Ways to Develop Godly Friendships
1. Dwell on God.
We should be open about our struggles and sin with those we know are trustworthy. But the entire relationship doesn’t need to be about us and our problems, or vice versa. Instead of dwelling on hard stuff or sin all the time, we should choose to dwell on God’s promises and God’s statutes.
2. Pray for each other.
Every revival begins with prayer, and so do good, godly friendships. While we can’t save a friend from the fire or solve their problems, we can pray for them. God is the only one Who is completely sovereign and in control. He is the One that holds our friend’s tomorrow.
3. Stand strong.
Ephesians 6:10-19 uses the word “stand” four times in the first several verses when addressing spiritual armor. When it comes to friendships with anyone, we need to stand strong in Jesus and remember that we can’t lift anyone up. Only Jesus can.
4. Serve together.
A great way to seek God first in friendship and to love others is to serve with your friends. My youth group has a student-led team called Swerve that serves at my youth group every week. We do everything from worship to welcoming. When we serve together, it helps us learn to point to God in our friendships instead of to ourselves.
This is the kind of friendship God designed us for – loving Jesus first and then people.
When we lose the carrot by choosing to let Jesus satisfy our deepest aches and longings instead of our friends, it changes everything. Instead of friendship being me-centered, it becomes God-centered.
God-centered friendship points us to Jesus and sharpens us. “As Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” – Proverb 27:17