1. True friends heighten our joy in God – Companionship always deepens joy. My favorite movie is
good when watched alone, but it’s better with a friend. Somehow a great meal is more satisfying when shared. We naturally drag our friends into what we enjoy. But of all the joys of life, God is the greatest! We were made for Him — to enjoy Him and center our hearts and lives on Him. And like any other joy, our joy in God will be fullest when we share it with other people. Christian friends help us enjoy God by enjoying Him with us.
2. True friends expose sin in us that keeps us from God – We need friends to lovingly show us our sin. We need friends to help us see our blind spots. We need friends to speak with brutal honesty and tender compassion telling us the truth about ourselves even when we don’t want to hear it. This is a vital function of community that few people want. We’d much rather have friends who always tell us what we want to hear, who show us the false grace of excusing sin and give us false hope that we can grow closer to God without repentance. But because sin is a poison to our souls and a thief of our joy in God, we cannot afford to forsake this kind of friendship.
3. True friends encourage us to obey God – While it is true we need friends to help us see any disobedience, we also need them to spur us on to obedience. Often, obedience to God takes more courage than we can muster alone. Without the faithful cheerleading of Christian friends, we easily shrink back into stagnant apathy, not wanting to willfully disobey, but also too afraid to step out in faith.
4. True friends bring us to God in our weakness – Walking through life in a God-belittling world, with our sin-ridden flesh, against a hell-bent enemy, is too hard to be attempted alone. Alone, we easily believe the lies of Satan. Alone, we buckle under the weight of our sin. Alone, we grow discouraged and weary. We need the help of other believers to carry us to God. So, how can we bring others to God? We listen to a sister confess a hidden sin and wash her with the truth that Christ has cleansed her and made her whole. We can meet the practical needs of those enduring intense suffering in Jesus’s name. Or we can simply bring our friends to God in prayer, asking Him to do greater things in their lives than we can do for them.
5. True friends love us for the glory of God – The world’s idea of intimacy in friendship is making much of one another: “I can’t live without you!” Compliments and pledges of devotion quickly give a brief and false adrenaline rush of importance and significance. We certainly need to encourage and affirm one another, but Christian friends should be far more focused on God’s weight and significance — not their own or their friend’s. Like everything else, the end goal of our friendships should be God and His glory. Since our hearts are prone to wander away and worship other things, we need these constant reminders of His glory and His worth in our friendships. (KELLY NEEDHAM)