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If you’ve ever been friends with someone who is constantly bickering and arguing, you know how stressful it can be. God created us to be in relationship with each other, but the quality of those relationships is extremely important. He wants to bless every aspect of our lives, and one of those ways is through joyful friendships that can stand the test of time. Good friends are gifts from God, but the devil’s agenda is to trap us in the wrong kinds of relationships; as believers, we need to know which friendships to pursue and which ones to avoid.
First and foremost, God needs to be present in all our relationships. His presence brings peace and joy, and causes everything to flourish and grow. “Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence” (Proverbs 27:9, TPT). There are plenty of relationships in the world that don’t have God in the center; those are the unhealthy, toxic relationships we see around us that make us cringe.
Who we hang around with greatly impacts the way we think. Associating with the right kinds of people causes us to think in line with God’s Word; associating with the wrong kinds of people pulls us away from it and messes up our minds. The world has no idea of the significance of this and how ungodly friendships can ultimately ruin us. “So stop fooling yourselves! Evil companions will corrupt good morals and character. Come back to your right senses and awaken to what is right...” (1 Corinthians 15:33, 34, TPT).
The spirit of anger is everywhere, and can rub off onto us if we associate with angry people. The world is full of problems and issues that have the potential to draw us into strife, but always being angry isn’t emotionally healthy. It can influence us without us even being aware of it; when we meet people like this we must distance ourselves from them. “Walk away from an angry man or you’ll embrace a snare in your soul by becoming bad-tempered just like him” (Proverbs 22:24, 25, TPT).
Sometimes people aren’t always what they seem. We’ve all encountered “fake friends” whose only intent was to use us to their advantage. It’s imperative that we can discern the difference between the two before we get trapped in a painful relationship that isn’t God’s will for us. “You can trust a friend who wounds you with his honesty, but your enemy’s pretended flattery comes from insincerity” (Proverbs 27:6, TPT). True friends always have our best interest at heart.
Godly friends strengthen and affirm us with what the Greek language calls “phileo,” an intimate, close personal friendship developed over time. After a while, we become so close with friends like these that we consider them family. “A dear friend will love you no matter what, and a family sticks together through all kinds of trouble” (Proverbs 17:17, TPT). This kind of friend knows all about you and has seen you at your worst but still unconditionally accepts you.
Our closest friends, the few people we let into our inner circle, should reflect God’s love for us. Not everyone we meet qualifies for this. Having a primary relationship with God and regularly spending time with Him allows Him to guide us into the right relationships with others. Depending on God’s guidance in this area keeps us in good company.
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