I believe in the power of friendship. Jesus is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. He modeled and models genuine friendship.
Our culture places romance before friendship. I believe this is a crucial mistake. Hormones falter, chemistry can fade, attraction can waiver, yet friendship is a building block that can grow over time.
A friend seeks to give and love, not take and consume. A true friend is loyal. A true friend wants the best for you. A godly friend wants God’s best for you, this means they do not want to lead you into sin or moral compromise.
What is your relationship foundation?
Every engineer (that’s my trade) is taught the foundation is important. The focus is to be on what will hold together your structure. If the foundation is cracked or unstable, your building will not survive the test of time nor weather the storms. Your structure will crumble when the storms come or come down over time due to the impact of gravity.
The foundation matters.
Just as former President Clinton stated, “It’s the economy stupid!” I say to every unmarried person, “Make friendship your firm foundation.”
Over the years I have seen people marry because they both loved Jesus and they were smitten (caught up in emotions/hormones). Yet love for Jesus and fading hormones could not save their Titanic marriage. They were not great friends, nor did they cultivate trust, service, nor seek to investigate compatibility. They followed their attraction instead of building a foundation of friendship.
Does this mean checking all romance at the door until you are great friends? Some say yes, some say no. I simply ask, “Is this person you are pursuing or pursuing you a great friend to you? Would you want them as just a friend?”
I believe it’s vital to move past hormones to think of building a life with someone. Does this person genuinely care about you as a person, not just what they gain by connection with you? Do they possess characteristics you would want in life partner? Can you trust them? Is there anything that looks like Jesus coming from them to you?
I knew a man who attended church regularly tell me he only told women what he thought they wanted to hear to take advantage of them. He used women. He pretended to be someone he wasn’t. He went to church on Sunday and praised and spent his weekend nights taking advantage of vulnerable women who took his statement of , “I am a Christian,” to mean giving themselves away would lead to marriage.
He did not marry any of those women. He took their innocence, feasted on their being gullible, and continued his life as a predator. I found out what he was doing, confronted him and well, he did not change until years later. Grace, by the way, is not a license to sin of hurt people. Sin leads to death.
His actions were of the devil though he professed Jesus. Look at the fruit of someone’s life. If they claim Jesus yet try to get you to sin, they are not following Jesus, nor are they your friend. This man was grossly selfish and not being a friend to God nor anyone else.
Look deeper than skin deep
Marriage is more than physical intimacy. It is building a life with someone. Who better than a great friend who loves God, genuinely loves you, wants the best for you, you desire the best for them, they are trustworthy/full of integrity, and there is attraction? If the butterflies or looks fade, you still have a strong foundation.
I have had a few associates who’s spouses committed adultery. Their cheating spouse’s excuse was, “My spouse was not doing it for me anymore. My physical needs were not being met,” or “I met someone who excites me and pleases me physically or emotionally.”
If someone chooses you just based on their physical attraction or selfish reasons, you can not be certain if you are injured, your looks fade, you fail to meet their expectations, etc…they will not jump ship for something they deem better, more appealing, that will meet their needs.
Lust is grossly selfish and looking to be pleased. Love is unselfish and sacrificial. A true friend who loves you will not cheat nor seek to abandon you because they found someone better. Someone just in it for the butterflies, will follow the butterflies.
Scripture says this about friendship:
Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech will have the king as a friend. (NLT)
Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable? (NLT)
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. (NLT)
Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (NLT)
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (NLT)
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. (NLT)
The model of friendship in the Bible is marked by unselfish, radical, pure, compassionate, loyal, faithful, mutually invested love.
EXAMPLES OF GOOD FRIENDS IN THE BIBLE (source thoughtco.com)
King David and Abiathar (1 Samuel 22:23)
David and Nahash (2 Samuel 10:2)
David and Hushai (2 Samuel 15:32–37)
Job’s Friends (Job 2:11)
Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17)
Paul’s Ministry Friends (Romans 16:3-5; 2 Corinthians 2:12-13; Philippians 2:25; Colossians 4:7, 14; 2 Timothy 1:2-4; 1 Philemon)
Someone told me a story of a man that impressed me. He told his future wife, “Do not marry me if I am not going to add value to your life.” What a beautiful token of love and friendship. Love seeks to add value. Love seeks to be a friend. Love is who God is. Is the person you are pursuing or pursuing you a great friend to God and to you? If you take away, “She’s smoking hot,” or “He’s dreamy,” what do you have? If you look at the two of your lives, can you be great friends? If not, caution. How they treat you during dating or courting is an indication of your future. Normally efforts lower after marriage not ramp up; people tend to put their best foot forward before they say “I do.”
If they are a horrible friend during dating or courting, why anticipate a great friend after you marry?
We do not change people. God loves perfectly and we still have crazy acting people walking the earth. We are not greater than God. Also if the goal is to change people, they are our projects-not the objects of our love. Love is a gift we give out of the overflow of our hearts, not a tool to mold people into who we want them to be.
Papa God, help us to be a great friend to you and others. May we add value. May we be wise with who we choose to date, court, let into our hearts. May our lives overflow with your goodness, love, peace, joy, hope, integrity, passion, compassion, and insight. May the choices we make be fueled by wisdom. May we love ourselves enough to say no to bad friends, poor relationship choices. In Jesus powerful name, amen.
Love in Christ,
Erin L. Lamb