Women in the Local Church: Friendship

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

– Eccles. 4:9-12

If women in the local church are to honor God in our friendships we will take opportunities to pursue, nurture, and build them up. The scriptures remind us of the importance of being together and encouraging one another. We are after all, part of the household of faith and share a special responsibility to each other because of that distinction (2 Peter 1:1). Born-again believers are told that we are members of this family as His children and become heirs with Him for eternity (Rom. 9:8; 1 John 3:1-2; Rom. 8:14-17). Christian friends are not only friends, but brothers and sisters in Christ. Our faith should spur us on to participate in authentically Christian friendships. We are partners in the gospel.

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” - Heb. 10:24-25
"encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone." - I Thes. 5:14b

We pursue Christian friendships to honor God.

Rather than idealizing fanciful bff images in Instagram highlights, let’s pursue real friendship by being alert to the women God brings across our regular day-to-day paths. In the context of our local church, we are able to find loving, lasting friends by seeking women who we can strengthen or who might strengthen us (Prov. 27:17). Women who walk side by side in the throes of life benefit when discovering common challenges and speaking truth in love (Ephes. 4:15). We pursue Christian friendships to honor God.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:34 & 35

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” – C.S. Lewis

We nurture Christian friendships to honor God.

Loving others in friendship comes easy for us in times of joy and moments of celebration. But the hard truth is that in the midst of our daily routines of navigating relationships, we are confronted with the fact that we live in a fallen world. We suffer its effects. In our weakness, we stumble. In the darkness, we weep. Let’s face it – Life can be hard. Hard enough that we all know people who have given up on friendships. And in the worst of times, given up on God. In the body of Christ, we need to understand one another and understanding comes through listening. We nurture Christian friendships to honor God.

The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them…It is God’s love for us that he not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear…But Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they should share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

We build up Christian friendships to honor God.

Christians are not called to the body to be closed off from everyone else. God uses everyday women like you and like me to be agents of compassion and encouragement in our friendships. Eccles. 4:11-12 is a reminder that we are stronger when together – Vulnerability comes when we are weak and tired, and alone. When friends stumble, they need help in the form of accountability, not criticism. When friends weep, they need a person who weeps with them but also stays when everyone else has gone. Authentically Christian friendships display compassion, courage, and confidence. Friends give aid or support to build up others so they might continue on (Prov. 27:9, Prov. 12:6; Rom. 12:10). Paul taught in Philippians 2:3-5 that we are to do nothing from self-ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than ourselves. He wrote that we are to not only look to our own interests, but also to the interests of others. We keep Christian friendships by continually giving grace and consistently pointing each other to Christ. We build up Christian friendships to honor God.

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us…we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. – 1 Thess. 2:8 & 12
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” – 2 Cor. 4:5 & 6

The goal in Christian friendships is to honor God. 

The goal for friendship in the local church is not maintaining our comfortable social circles where pride becomes the root of self-focus. As Christ’s church, we function best with the understanding that we are interdependent and indispensable. We lay aside pride with a spirit of self-forgetfulness so that in fellowship and community, we strive toward a common goal. Paul states that it is with involvement in Christian community that we find a proper understanding of who we are, the marks of a Christian (Rom. 12:3-10). We are commanded to love one another with the love of Jesus (John 13:34-35). May God be glorified in our Christian friendships as we co-labor for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Eccles. 4:9-10).The goal in Christian friendships is to honor God.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. - Rom. 12:3-10

When we do not pursue, nurture, and build up Christian friendships that come with help and influence of others, life takes on significant burden. God has placed particular people in our lives to help us and make us more effective for kingdom purposes. May women in the local church love one another with affection while showing honor to God in their friendships.

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