FRIENDSHIPS CAN BE REWARDING BUT SOMETIMES CHALLENGING. Cattiness, unrealistic expectations, and hurt feelings top the list of things that sabotage them. I had many issues with friendships during my school days and a few as an adult. Growing in my relationship with God helped me really understand the heart of friendship through His eyes.

A real friend loves and forgives.
Jesus, our greatest Friend, commanded us to love and showed us how to be a true friend through His love and sacrifice for us (John 15:13). A real friend loves all the time (Proverbs 17:17a). The love of a friend is sincere (1 Peter 1:22). Real friends forgive each other and do not hold grudges. They work together to overcome problems and disagreements. Proverbs 10:12, Proverbs 17:9, Colossians 3:13-14

A real friend is there when it really counts.
A friend unselfishly considers the needs of others and will always be there to help out. When people come against you, a friend will stand up for you and with you. Whether you talk to a friend everyday or not, you know you can go to one another when you need to share your heart. You can always pick up where you left off. True friends never turn their backs on each other. Proverbs 18:24, Proverbs 17:17b, Proverbs 27:10, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

A real friend makes you a better person.
If you constantly hang around people that make unwise choices or live an unhealthy lifestyle, they could influence you if you are not careful (Proverbs 22:24-25, 1 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 12:26, Proverbs 16:29). Take note and learn from misguided people what “not” to do. You want a friend who will tell the truth when you need to hear it and one who can also receive the truth when they need it. Proverbs 27:17, Proverbs 13:20, Proverbs 27:5-6, Galatians 6:1, James 5:19-20

A real friend is not jealous of you.
Watch out for people who get upset when something happens good in your life or constantly gripe about what they do not have compared to you or others. A person who feels this way will in turn become spiteful and hateful. Jealousy and envy fester in the mind and heart and most times lead to evil actions (James 3:14, 16). Friends admire, appreciate, and celebrate each other.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17 NIRV

A real friend will not say or do things on purpose to make you feel badly.
When a person starts to hurt you intentionally without regard to your feelings, you know that friendship is not of God. You do not need someone in your life that enjoys watching others hurt. Friends build each other up, not tear one another down! Ephesians 4:29, 1 Thessalonians 5:11

A real friend does not talk about you behind your back.
Saying things to others about your friend when they are not around is only cool if you have something good to say. However, when you start to repeat issues or problems your friend has shared with you or speak negatively about them to someone else, you become a backstabber. Gossip is never okay and usually leads to rumors. When a person talks badly about other people to you, they might also talk wrongly about you to another person. Friendship is based on trust and loyalty. Now, if you feel your friend is in trouble, you should consult someone you trust so your friend can get help. Just remember, do not say anything about your friend that you would not want repeated or cannot say to the friend yourself. Proverbs 11:13, Proverbs 16:28, Proverbs 18:8, Proverbs 20:19, Proverbs 26:20

A real friend is not motivated by benefits and gifts.
Some folk are driven by selfish ambition, materialism, and influential gain. They pose as allies, but in fact, they solicit the potential benefits they may receive from another’s life and connections. They spend a lot of time trying to see how others live. They prey on people and manipulate situations to get what they want. These individuals are fickle because they are always chasing the next “best friend”. They spend most of the time hobnobbing from one social circle to the next. When the benefits stop or do not come through as hoped, so does the friendship. God looks at everything that motivates us, even when we think we have good intentions. Our pursuit of friendship should never hinge on what we can receive but rather what we have to offer. Proverbs 16:2

A real friend does not leave you or anyone else out.
Cliques and exclusive social circles exist in all generations and cultures. Anyone who is not like them is a lowly outsider and gets the cold shoulder treatment. These groups always find reasons to justify their haughty behavior. These people strategically leave others out, only to isolate a certain inner circle. Getting along with others is problematic for them. So what makes you think they will continue to get along with you? If other people are excluded, you will eventually be excluded too, especially if you get on that person’s bad side. Friendship is about unity and inclusion. You cannot build friendships based on exclusion. Seek relationships that promote peace (Psalm 133:1). Be open to engage with people of different backgrounds. You never know what you will learn and how God will use you to bless each other. Philippians 2:1-11, Romans 12:16

A real friend respects your time and commitments.
In the age of mobile communication, the expectation is you should be easy to get a hold of or at least return calls or texts quickly. Each one of us has obligations, some more than others. Just because you cannot answer a friend’s call immediately does not mean you do not care or do not want to be there to listen. A friend in need of serious help is different than a codependent person. A person with temperamental attitudes, selfish behavior, and unreasonable demands pollutes the health of a friendship. 1 Peter 2:17, Romans 12:10

Next to God and family, friendships can be some of the most meaningful relationships in your life, but they are no good without God’s help! Real friendships are developed and rooted on biblical principles. These attributes of friendship should be established in your own heart before you can recognize them in someone else. When you follow these ground rules, bona fide friendships bless your life in a special way. “Two people are better than one” yet “a rope made out of three cords isn’t easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12 NIRV).

You must not leave God out of your friendships because doing it His way will save you a lot of heartaches, trouble, and time. There is a big difference between real friends and occasional associates. Your closest confidants should be people who understand and live by the things of God. Otherwise, these principles will be difficult to grasp and carry out.

God loves when His children are in agreement and unity (Matthew 18:19-20). He promises to answer their prayers and be with them. Ask God to help you pick authentic friends who are loving and trustworthy. Commit to pray for your friends and foes (1 Timothy 2:1, Matthew 5:44). As you go through life, friendships may come and go, but no matter how long they last, you make the most of each one when God is leading you!

Godly people are careful about the friends they choose.

Proverbs 12:26 NIRV

Excerpt taken from Regal Heart Magazine, Issue 1. Read it here.