Picking your child’s friends is one of the beautiful blessings of having a young child. This normally starts with scheduled playdates with your mom friends and easily carries over into your child’s early school-age years.
As my kids have gotten older, they have a bit more say in who they like to hang out with, but as parents, we can still control their circle of friends to a degree.
My husband and I have always tried to teach our children about godly friendships. Thankfully, whether they’re from church, extracurricular activities, or school, our kids have done a fairly good job of choosing some great kids to befriend. But– I’m not naive in thinking this will always be the case.
I pray numerous things over my children, but the one thing that I’ve prayed for since their preschool years is that they’d find a friend like Jonathan.
In the Bible, Jonathan, the son of King Saul, was an example of a godly friend– one with qualities we should strive to have, and a type of friend we should look for when searching for godly friendships.
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What is a godly friendship?
A godly friendship is a three-cord friendship. Meaning, in order for two people to have a godly friendship, God must be at the center of it. Both parties must first and foremost seek the Lord and walk in His ways.
It is the Lord who teaches us how to love others and gives us the ability to do so; therefore, without the Lord in the midst of our friendships, we can’t truly know how to love one another in a way that’s deep enough to constitute a true friendship.
What do David and Jonathan teach you about godly friendships?
The story of David and Jonathan’s friendship is one of love, commitment, loyalty, protection, and self-sacrifice. It is the epitome of “a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” as mentioned in Proverbs 18:24.
Godly Friendship Begins with Love
Now it came about, when he had finished speaking to Saul, that Jonathan committed himself to David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. (1 Samuel 18:1, NASB)
It starts with love for the Lord, which then transpires into love for each other. Without love, friendship is superficial. When you truly love a friend, you move beyond being cordial and kind, to becoming a part of each other’s lives. It is only through the Lord that you are able to love as He loves us.
Godly Friendship is Loyal
David and Jonathan both loved the Lord. They were loyal to each other, even making a covenant together (1 Samuel 18:3). But, more importantly– they were loyal to the Lord first. Loyalty in friendship means you honor your promises, and don’t turn your back on each other, no matter the cost.
Godly Friendship Defends
King Saul resented David and sought to kill him numerous times. Although he was Jonathan’s father and the King, Jonathan risked his life to defend David, even to the point of openly questioning his father’s decision (1 Samuel 20:32). Saul felt personally threatened by David and in addition, knew Jonathan’s future reign as king was threatened. Yet, Jonathan’s devotion to both the Lord and his friend David, allowed him to go forward in what he knew was right and not be influenced by the ungodly character of his father.
A godly friend believes the best and hopes for the best. They defend the other, even when everyone else is against them.
Godly Friendship Protects
1 Samuel 19:2 says that Jonathan informed David that Saul wanted to kill him, and therefore told David to be on guard and hide. At what length would you go to protect a friend not just from physical harm, but from emotional and spiritual defeat as well?
Friends help each other to steer clear of behaviors, people, and decisions that lead to sin. We can be open, transparent, and vulnerable— knowing there is encouragement, accountability, and prayer available at every turn.
Godly Friendship Contains Self-Sacrifice
Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his military gear, including his sword, his bow, and his belt. (1 Samuel 18:4, NASB)
Jonathan was King Saul’s firstborn son, and therefore next in line for the throne. However, because he knew that the Lord’s hand was on David and he was to be the next king (no doubt insight he received from the Lord), Jonathan was willing to lay aside his rights to the throne. In doing so, he chose to not only stay loyal to God’s will but also loyal to his friend. This is a rare occurrence in Scripture and history alike– to find an heir to the throne willing to give it up for someone else.
Yet, this is what godly friendship does. It’s not one-sided or self-promoting; there is give and take. And, because of love, both parties are willing to make sacrifices.
Commitment to the Lord Leads to Commitment to Each Other
When we’re committed to the Lord’s will, we’re more likely to be committed to those around us. Why? Because if we’re truly seeking the Lord, we won’t have the desire to be self-seeking.
Looking to grow your faith and be more intentional about prayer and bible study? Check out all of our spiritual growth resources!
What does the Bible say about godly friendships?
Apart from the story of Jonathan and David, the Bible has much to say about friendship. Many of these things are woven in the pages of Scripture for us to discover, such as the bond between Jesus and the siblings, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Or, in Paul’s uplifting greetings to people at many of the churches in which he wrote.
But, to sum it up, here are three Bible verses about godly friendships:
Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you also are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NASB)
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. -Proverbs 27:17 (NASB)
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. -Proverbs 17:17 (NASB)
Godly friendships provide opportunities for us to encourage and be encouraged, to help each other grow, and to learn how to love like Jesus.
Why do we need godly friendships?
God didn’t intend for us to go through this life alone. Our friendships bring fellowship, accountability, and opportunities for prayer.
Peer-to-peer friendships allow for a level of relatability with another who is “in the trenches” with us; whereas friendships with someone older can give us priceless wisdom and godly advice (Titus 2:3-4).
Perhaps, the most important reason we need godly friendships is because of the warning found in 1 Corinthians 15:33: Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (NASB) We truly are the company we keep.
If we are constantly subjecting ourselves to the company of those who walk a dark path, not following the Lord, we will eventually pick up on their habits. Our feet will slowly shuffle off the path the Lord has for us, and before we know it, we’re no longer truly following His purposes for our lives.
10 tips to help you establish and grow a godly friendship
The journey from new friends to a deeper, godly friendship takes time, commitment, and work. But, you’re investing in the life of a fellow sister, so of course, it’s worth it! Romans 12:9-21 gives us a list of ways that we can encourage and influence those in our circles (and here’s a guide with practical tips for each verse to help you!).
Grab the Romans 12 guide, and take a look at these additional tips to help you grow a godly friendship.
#1: Communicate regularly.
#2: Fellowship often– together, and with other believers.
#3: Share the hard things. Be real and honest.
#4: Pray for each other and others.
#5: Get to know each other’s families.
#6: Share experiences together.
#7: Do fun things together. Take interest in each other’s hobbies– you may pick up a new one!
#8: Study the Word together.
#9: Hold each other accountable.
#10: Show genuine interest in each other.
Be Intentional about cultivating Godly Friendships
While it’s certainly okay to have friends in your life who are nonbelievers, nothing compares to sharing deep, meaningful friendships with other sisters in Christ. Love, commitment, and loyalty are a few traits we should look for in a godly friend. But, sister– I encourage you to first seek the Lord, and purpose to exhibit those traits yourself. Just as I pray for my children, be the “Jonathan” someone else needs in their life.
Shanna Ream is a daughter of the King, wife, and mother of 3. She has a passion for encouraging others in their walk with Christ, keeping the focus on the One Who deserves it. In addition to blogging, she enjoys graphic design and handlettering.
You can normally find her curled up on the couch with her family, with coffee in one hand, and a good book in the other. Join her at www.awomancreatedonpurpose.com.