Fostering Healthy Friendships

Every life is bound to be full of joys and sorrows, and what better way to walk through those times than to have healthy friends willing to walk through our journeys with us. The Bible speaks to this very principle in Proverbs 18:24, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (New American Standard Bible). What exactly does this mean? I would offer that it means having 500 “friends” connected to your Facebook profile does not make one as relationally rich as having 2 or 3 intimate friends. In the following paragraphs I would like to argue 3 reasons for the importance of fostering healthy friendships. Friendships are important because God created us as social beings to live in
community with one another. Secondly, friendships offer the opportunity for personal growth
and sanctification. Finally, friendships offer us a place of self-care and refreshment.

In the very beginning when God created Adam, it was apparent that Adam was lonely
and even all the animals and plants could not provide Adam with the companionship he was
missing. So, God created Eve for Adam, a companion and friend to walk through life with him.
There are several other powerful examples of close friendships in the Bible where we can see
the companionship and sense of community with David and Jonathon, Jesus and Peter, and
Paul and Barnabus. Having friends to walk through life with us, gives greater meaning and
purpose to one’s life. When we have friends who can celebrate or grieve in significant moments
of our lives with us, it makes the journey more enjoyable, or less difficult.

Friendships offer amazing opportunities for personal growth and sanctification. When
we have trust and safety in a relationship, this is a wonderful place for us to offer and receive
constructive criticism which can help us grow into a better human being. When I think of
sanctification in friendship, Proverbs 27:17 stands out, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man
sharpens another” (New American Standard Bible). WHOA! What does iron have to do with
friendships? Back in Old Testament days if a blade needed to be sharpened the process would
be to take two blades and quickly file the edges against each other, producing sharp edges on
both blades. The process sounds daunting and perhaps horrible yet, the result was a beautiful
and productive one for sure! In the same way, having close friends we spend time with allows
us the opportunity to be known completely and to have our “rough spots” be seen and
hopefully pointed out to us within the friendship. In the end this makes us “sharper” and wiser.

Finally, friendships offer us a place for self-care and refreshment. Friends are the
companions we choose to spend our time with when we have leisure time. Whether it is going
out to eat, biking or running, watching a movie, doing a project together or simply enjoying a
nice conversation, all of these activities provide opportunities for self-care and refreshment! It
is important to prioritize time to be with friends to care for ourselves because in turn we will be
better equipped to return to our work and responsibilities. Enjoying time with friends is also a
good way to prevent burn-out which only makes one less productive. This, in turn can lead to
low self-worth and eventually even depression.

Take some time today to think about current friendships and how you are investing into
them or what may need to change. In addition, perhaps there are new friendships you simply
need to make a priority and start making plans for now. The decisions made today will impact
tomorrow….

~Susan Steier