Closer Than a Brother

11 Characteristics of a Godly Friend

By Charles F. Stanley
  • October 16, 2016

Since we tend to become like the people with whom we associate, we must build relationships that are beneficial. True godly friendships are built with the following attitudes and actions:

  1. Share a deep common interest. Intimate friendships begin to develop with a mutual interest.

  2. Meet the needs of the other person. The goal is not to focus on self but on our friends. We consider what’s best for them and how we can build up and encourage them in their walk with Christ.

  3. Risk rejection and pain. To develop a genuine friendship, we must be willing to let our guard down, even if it means possible rejection. It may be that the person we’re trying to befriend has received rejection in the past and is therefore accustomed to giving it back in return. Sometimes we need to see past our hurt to discover that the relationship is worth pursuing.

  4. Love sacrificially. This means we’re willing to love unconditionally. Friendship is not all about receiving what we want and need. There may be times when we must give love without receiving it or sacrifice our time, preferences, or even money in order to express love to a friend.

  5. Are open and transparent. We all have areas in our lives we’d prefer to keep hidden. Maybe we’re ashamed of our background or faults and fear rejection if our friend discovers the truth. But authentic friendships are built on transparency and the willingness to reveal who we really are.

  6. Serve joyfully. Genuine friendships are not based on what the other person can do for us. There’s great joy when we view the relationship as an opportunity to give of ourselves without hesitation to meet the needs of the other.

  7. Ask forgiveness. In every relationship there will be occasions when we hurt or offend each other. If we let pride get in the way and refuse to acknowledge our wrong, we hinder that relationship. True friends are willing to humble themselves and ask forgiveness so the relationship can be restored.

  8. Accept criticism and praise. Most of us are much better at handling commendations than criticism, but to become a person worthy of praise, we must accept and learn from criticism. True friends are willing to receive hard truths in order to grow in the relationship.

  9. Are committed to the other’s spiritual growth. When we truly love someone, our desire is that they have an increasing interest in the things of God—Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, witnessing, and godly relationships. And if we’re committed to helping them mature, then we must be growing in our relationship with the Lord as well. Conversations about the Lord, prayers for and with each other, and open sharing about our struggles are all part of building a relationship centered on Christ.

  10. Are governed by principles of Scripture. When our conduct and attitudes are in keeping with God’s Word, we have a good foundation for true and lasting friendships. And if His Word is important to us, it should be a frequent topic in our conversations with friends. There’s great benefit in sharing with each other what God is doing in our lives or how He has answered prayer.

  11. Are loyal. Friendships are a treasure, but they are also a responsibility. We don’t want to be fair-weather friends who are only faithful when all is well. Loyalty means we’re there no matter what happens, even when it’s inconvenient or difficult. If others criticize, mistreat, or malign our friends, we stay faithful and encourage and strengthen them in their time of need.

Have you ever had a friend who modeled this kind of godliness? He or she probably had an invaluable influence on your life and spiritual growth. Now consider what kind of friend you are to those close to you. In what ways could you help improve your relationships?

This article was originally published on May 15, 2016, and is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Strong Friendships—Part 2,”  which airs this weekend on TV.

Related Topics:  Family  |  Community  |  Christian Fellowship

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