Are your friendships always seeming to disappoint, frustrate, confuse, or surprise you? Do the people you consider your dearest friends have the ability to both make your day wonderful and drive you crazy at the same time?
Human friendships can be a wonderful gift from God, but they are far from perfect in a fallen world. Consider the biblical spectrum described:
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
“Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9)
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24, NIV)
“My relatives have failed me, my close friends have forgotten me.” (Job 19:14)
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend … Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” (Proverbs 27:6, 9)
“You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” (Luke 21:16-17)
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13)
Unless we want endless disappointment, we must bring a broken-world, eternity-focused mentality to all our friendships.
What does eternity have to do with our friendships today? Much more than I think we realize!
In one way or another, we enter our friendships as eternity amnesiacs, forgetting the life that is to come and loading all our hopes and dreams into the here and now. Day after day, we subtly and not so subtly ask our friends to deliver paradise to us.
When we forget eternity, we look to people to give us what only God can provide. This always leads to disappointment, frustration, criticism, and conflict. But because we don’t see our eternity amnesia, we are convinced that our friends are the problem and that they need to change, not us.
We need to remember that God does not intend friendships to be an end in themselves, but a means to an end. Rather than being the container for our happiness, these beautiful yet messy relationships are a workroom for the Redeemer to do what he alone can do: sanctify us so we are progressively prepared for the paradise that is to come.
As you live through the ups and downs of friendship, rest assured: the One who is working on us is protecting us and providing for us at the same time. You can have the security of knowing that in the most challenging moments of worldly friendships, our Guardian Friend is with us and will be with us until our broken relationships are no more.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus!
Paul David Tripp
1. Who are your closest friends? Why are they your friends, and how did they become your friends?
2. How have these friends been a blessing from God? Have you encouraged and thanked them recently? Go ahead and do so, with specificity!
3. Do these same friends frustrate and disappoint you? In what ways?
4. Are you asking imperfect people to be your savior or deliver paradise to you in the here and now? Consider the unrealistic expectations you might be burdening them with.
5. How do you contribute to the conflict in your friendships? What idols and selfish demands cause strain? Do you need to confess and repent to your friend for something you recently said or did?
6. How can you be a better friend this week? Be specific, and be a friend of Jesus by doing what he has commanded of you (John 15:14).