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I sat on the floor of my quiet living room, cleaning toys up off the floor, all by myself…again.
The silence was deafening and the loneliness echoed.
Here I was, an extrovert that thrived on the energy of other people, home alone all day, every day…and incredibly lonely. My older kids were in school, my youngest was napping, and I had no Christian friends to encourage me in our new city.
Sure, we went to the tiny country church nearby and the little old ladies cooed over how cute we were, but no one knew us well. As a new Christian, I was struggling without friends.
No one attempted to peel back the curtain to see what was really going on. No one knew how sad I was and how the seed of bitterness against my husband had taken root. No one offered me the gift of Christian friendship.
Why Genuine Christian Friendship Matters
Loneliness is a dangerous emotion.
It opens the door for Satan to convince us so many lies that can draw us down a path we are not meant to be on. A path that walks away from God and towards pain and misery.
And even science has proven that friendships with other women help decrease your stress levels! Simply having someone to drink coffee with, to share parenting struggles and marriage troubles with, who knows you well and cares about your well being can do wonders for your emotional health.
God designed us for community and Christian friends are truly a gift.
In Psalm 25:16, David cries out to God, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” I wish I had cried out to God with these words, but I didn’t. I was an immature believer and had no one pouring spiritual wisdom into my life at that time.
All I knew was that my heart ached for a relationship and I didn’t know how to find it. After 2 years, I finally connected with another woman that had moved into the neighborhood.
Then we moved again and I feared I would have to start all over.
But God is merciful.
The Gift Of Christian Friends
This time, even though I was alone, I wasn’t lonely. The other wives in our community were excited to meet me and I had an instant friend group.
We had coffee together, we talked about parenting struggles, and even marriage troubles. But, most importantly, none of them were afraid to talk about Jesus!
These women cared about their relationship with God and talked about it unashamedly. Over the past 7 years, God has used these women to show me how true Christian friendship is focused on Christ rather than on me.
I finally understood the gift of Christian friendship.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
What Is Christian Friendship?
A friendship focused on Christ means you meet the physical needs of one another.
Jesus had compassion on the people He was with and cared for their physical needs every day. He fed them, healed them and broke bread with them.
You are called to live like Christ and do the same. The Bible tells you, in Galatians 6:2, that we are to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
You do that by seeing our friends who are sick, stressed or suffering in some way and you meet their physical needs as if they were your own.
This can look like a tired mom of small children who never has any downtime or a friend that is worn out from illness in the household.
Maybe there is a woman who recently experienced a life-altering event that has left her head spinning or a friend that is just overwhelmed with the sheer amount of work that must be done at home each day.
Sometimes it’s as simple as a smile and word of encouragement.
Practical Ways To Be A Genuine Christian Friend
How can you represent Christ to our friends in times of stress?
- Offer to babysit her kids so that she can do something all by herself (even if it is just grocery shopping and cleaning her house without a little one making another mess right behind her) OR offer to come over and distract her children for her while she takes care of other pressing needs.
- Make her a meal (or several that can go in the freezer) to ease the stress of cooking dinner. Don’t like to cook yourself? Order her a pizza or pick up some Taco Bell! Trust me, it won’t matter if it is not homemade by you as long as it didn’t have to be homemade by her.
- Ask her if you can help her get projects (big or small) done around the house. This could mean rearranging furniture, cleaning out a closet or even painting the entire outside of her house! (True story – I had a friend do this with me!)
- Be available to run errands for her or go with her on a long drive so she doesn’t have to go alone. Sit next to her in the waiting room at the Dr’s office or the hospital waiting room while she anticipates a diagnosis. Sometimes, just your presence can be enough.
As Christians, we are the hands and feet of Jesus. What does that mean exactly? It means physically tending to the needs of your Christian sisters when they cannot meet those needs themselves.
A friendship focused on Christ means you meet the emotional and spiritual needs of one another. While you are not responsible for anyone else’s spiritual growth, a truly Biblical Christian friendship must address it.
Fear, despair, and sin reside in the heart and are too easily hidden without friends who take the time to dig deeper.
Colossians 3:16 says “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
More Ways To Be A Good Friend
Being a Christian friend is as much about encouraging a sister to be hopeful as it is holding her accountable for her wrongdoing.
How do you inspire and sharpen your Christian friends? (Proverbs 27:17)
- Send text messages: ask how she is doing, share a Bible verse, write out a prayer. Whether she responds or not, it will make an impact on her, but consistency is key.
This doesn’t have to be daily, but it should be regularly.
- Go through a Bible study or read a spiritual growth book together and make time to talk about it. Meet in person, on the phone or even online.
Even if you are already doing this in a small group, take it upon yourself to reach out to 1 or 2 women outside of the group time to ask how they are applying what they are learning throughout the week.
You may find that they are more willing to open up about what is really going on in their heart when it is 1-on-1 rather than in front of others.
- Confront her in love about areas in her life where you see her making unwise choices or living in blatant sin. This could be disrespecting her husband, anger with her children, over-indulging in unhealthy habits with food or alcohol, attracting attention in an inappropriate way because of the way she dresses, etc.
Will this be easy? Absolutely not! We will naturally think of our own sin and be afraid that she will turn the conversation right back on us, but that has to be okay.
That leads us to…
- Confess your own sin when you offend her, gossip to her, take advantage of her or ignore her. Being honest about your failures, repenting and asking forgiveness is a critical part of developing friendships focused on Christ.
Relationships that weather the storms are often the strongest of them all.
You Can Be A Friend With Someone Who Isn’t Christian, Too
A friendship focused on Christ means living out our faith even in relationships with our non-Christian friends.
Wait, what? You mean I’m allowed to have close friends that aren’t Christian?
Yes! In fact, the Bible commands it.
Jesus didn’t surround himself with the religious people, He went to those that were living apart from the church and shared Himself with them. In fact, you are much more likely to lead a friend to faith in Jesus than you are a stranger!
Building genuine relationships with non-Christian friends is essential to spreading the Gospel.
But how exactly do you live out your faith without coming across as “that crazy religious lady?”
- Be inclusive. Having a birthday party, a barbeque or a bonfire? Don’t separate “church friends” from “non-church friends.”
Think it will be awkward? If you behave differently in front of your non-Christian friends than you do in front of your Christian friends, this might be a sign that you are not representing Jesus well. Or if you think your Christian friends will act judgmentally, this a great opportunity to lovingly remind them they are to live like Jesus who ate among the prostitutes and tax collectors.
- Be open. Don’t be afraid to talk about what God is doing in your life. Has God blessed you, surprised you, answered a prayer? Share those moments in a casual way as conversation allows.
Did you hear something in a sermon that really affected the way you handled a situation or convicted you to make a change? Be sure to include that small, yet important detail when sharing the story. (Think this is too much of a stretch for you?
I share my personal experience in 3 Reasons I don’t tell people about Jesus)
- Be honest. Your life isn’t perfect and your non-Christian friends need to know it.
That being said, be aware that they are watching how you handle your struggles.
Do you complain, gossip or wallow in self-pity when things don’t go your way? Or do you look to see the silver lining, always finding at least one small detail that you can be thankful to God for despite your circumstances?
Don’t act like life is easy for you, but show that you are trusting in God to work things out for your good and His glory.
- Be humble. Just like you must do with your Christian friends, when you have offended or wronged a non-Christian friend, you must own it, regardless of how they may respond.
Your apology may or may not be received well. Your humility may or may not be seen as weakness and possibly even taken advantage of. But your confession of your own sin and your attempt at reconciliation is something you are called to do because Jesus did it for you when you were His enemy.
Your non-Christian friends may not appreciate or understand your actions, but you never know how the Holy Spirit will use them to move in their hearts.
A bit of caution: Relationships with non-Christian women can become wonderful friendships but they cannot be our only close relationships. If we do not also surround ourselves with Christian sisters, we become an easy target for Satan.
We may be tempted to fall into sin when our main influence is the culture of the world and not even realize what is happening. (3 John 1:11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.)
True friendship, that is focused on Christ, means building one another up, taking care for each other in times of need, spurring each other on to grow spiritually.
You can’t do this unless you’re intentionally a part of the lives of other women, Christian and non-Christian alike.
Let’s make sure that we live out Hebrews 10:24-25: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
So dig deeper into the lives of your friends. Offer encouragement, compassion, and truth in love and honor God through your friendships as you focus them on Christ.
Alison is a busy, audacious, outgoing, sometimes irritable, but always blessed, woman.
She didn’t always make time for God and His Word daily or praying to Him unashamedly and listening for His response.
But when she did, she went from irritable, discontent, and angry to laughing with hope and thriving.
Now Alison share that hope with other women at Laugh, Hope, Thrive. Grab her free guide to knowing who you are in Christ.