Women Friendships – they can be complicated at times can’t they? We all know how hard friendships are for little girls with the “mean girls”. Then there’s cliques in Jr. High and High School that can be terribly painful. Then we grow into big girls and hopefully by this point we have learned a few things about how to be a good friend and how to avoid the “porcupine” people – the people who seem to poke us all the time. We want to learn to NOT be the porcupine – and how to manage those porcupines in our life!!!
God created women with the need for relationship. Today we’ll identify what to look for IN a friend and what qualities you need to develop to BE a good friend.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reads “(9)Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; (10)If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! (11) Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? (12) Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
In verse 9 we see friendships are valuable – there is a “good return” – in other words – it is a good investment to build strong friendships.
Characteristics of a true friend:
1. According to verse 10 – In order to be a good friend – you must be someone who is there for the other person when they fall down. If you are not practicing this in your life – then most likely you will find yourself feeling alone when you fall down. As a result verse 10 says that you are to be pitied. “Pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.” In order to have friends who are there for you in crisis you must be a good friend to others through thick and thin times.
2. According to verse 11 – a true friend can keep you warm. This verse makes me think of my friendship with my husband because it talks about laying with each other. But figuratively – my girl friendships warm my heart regularly. Their presence in my life make the journey brighter. So many times they have filled me with courage, hope and wisdom for today’s trials.
Give of your own heart selflessly and if the recipient is wise and worthy – you will have won a friend. When you see a friend in crisis do not merely twitter, text or Facebook them – pick up the phone and pray with them, take them a meal, or take their children for the day. In these ways – you become Jesus in the flesh to them and you will warm up your friend’s life.
3. According to verse 12 – A true friend helps you to not be overpowered – and defends you. A true friend overlooks your flaws and will not gossip about you behind your back but will rather defend you. I have a couple friends who have gotten “hot” when I’ve been verbally attacked – in those moments I saw flashes of their loyalty that I did not know existed without the attack and I greatly appreciated their depth of faithfulness. For a moment they shared my feelings and though they never acted on their feelings (because they are Christ followers) their hotness simply warmed my heart.
4. “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Simple equation: You + Christ + plus your friend = 3. When Christ is at the center of your friendship you will find a depth and love that far surpasses that of what the world offers. That is what is so precious about Christian fellowship. We are not to be lone ranger Christians – God wants us to go to church and fellowship – if you are not a part of a church body – you must go this Sunday and begin to connect – the body of believers needs you!
My conclusion is do not bring into your “close friendship circle” a porcupine. If you find yourself saying Ouch Ouch Ouch all the time that is a red flag. A porcupine is also someone who is not there for you when you are in crisis, gossips about you and does not have Christ as the center of her life – she should be kept at arms length. Yes, she can be A friend – but she should not be your “close” friend.
And as for us – do not become a porcupine by jaded friendships! We must strive to be a true friend – be Jesus in the flesh to our friends in times of crisis – keep them warm when they are faced with trials from this cold harsh world, be loyal, faithful, loving, encouraging and life giving to them! And always keep Christ the center of your friendships. They will know we are Christians by our love.
Walk with the King!