There are friends and then there are friends. We have some friends who are really just acquaintances and then we have some friends who may be as close as (or closer than) family. Too often in our churches today, fellow church members are typically more near to the former than they are to the latter. We, as a group, are just not forming the deep relationships we need.
Scripture tells us we’re to be one body. We’re supposed to be mutually supportive of each other. We can’t do it all alone, meaning we need our Christian brothers and sisters. While we know this and we say this, if we examine our relationships within the church and in para-church ministries, most of us have very shallow friendships.
As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. – 1 Samuel 18:1-3, ESV
These verses are probably familiar to you. We see them a lot in church and in devotionals (I’ve used them before, I know). While they are familiar to us, we’re not very good at building similar types of relationships. We need these types of relationships in order to try and walk more righteously. After all, we’re continually battling sin and the wickedness of our hearts. We know the cliche, “people are basically good,” is wrong. The Bible reminds us of that. Therefore, we must understand that we can very easily deceive ourselves. Usually this starts as a “small” sin and builds from there. We can justify or minimize what we’re doing. Therefore, we need friends who will hold us accountable. We need friends who will help restore us when we fail. Friends that are closer to acquaintances can’t and won’t do this. That’s why we need godly friends.
We are also reminded that often times we don’t receive because we don’t ask (persistently). We may occasionally hear a sermon on it, but if we’re truthful with ourselves, most of us aren’t asking for godly friends, despite the fact that we need them very badly. Asking for godly friends fits with God’s will. It goes back to the concept of one body of believers, mutually encouraging each other. However, when we pray for godly friends, we shouldn’t just pray once or a few times and then be done. This should be an ongoing prayer concern of ours. As a start, we should always be praying for the development of new, godly relationships. But we should also be praying for a deepening of the existing godly relationships we develop. Let us pray persistently and urgently for godly relationships, for godly friends, because we need them so.