Devotionals

Flowers and Weeds: Discerning Godly Friendships

I was asked a few weeks ago to write about Godly friendships and dealing with fall-outs. After sitting on the topic for a while now, I have concluded that there are two types of friendships: flowers and weeds.

Flowers add color, beauty, sweet fragrance and substance to gardens. Friends that bear the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, patience, peace, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control) add these same qualities to your life.

Weeds steal water from the flowers. They drain their life source and slowly take over and kill the gardens if they are not removed and uprooted. Unhealthy friendships and relationships do the same.

1. Love ?

A loving friend keeps your best interests in mind and does not compete with you. A loving friend does not feel threatened or insecure by your presence. They celebrate your achievements and comfort you in times of sadness. A friend that prays with and for you is a friend that loves you.

2. Joy ?

A joyful friend isn’t one that is required to be happy 24/7 to be a good friend. Happiness is temporal and hinges heavily upon circumstances and emotion. But joy is deeper, and reflects the condition of our souls. Joy cannot be shaken as easily as happiness, because joy is attained by knowing God deeply. The bible calls God’s strength our joy. The word says joy is found in righteousness and in Holy Spirit.

Joy reminds us that God will fulfill every promise he has given us, that he loves us and is fighting for us. That we don’t have to succumb to fear because our God is bigger—and that revelation stirs up great faith and hope!

A joyful friend is an encouraging one that speaks truth and hope into our circumstances, no matter how impossible they seem, because they know God’s nature.

Friends that act as weeds speak death. They speak curses and failure and expect the worst. They are cynical, jaded, and set low expectations on themselves and others. A huge indicator of a friend like this is one who constantly complains. After you spend time with these people you will feel drained, tired, and bummed out.

4. Patience ?

A patient friend is truly a gift. Patient friends truly reflect the heart of the Father. Think about how many times we screw up, sin, and fall short of God’s glory. We could never live up to his expectation, but somehow we hardly extend that same grace to others. Just sit in traffic for like, ten minutes and you’ll see what I mean.

Patient people understand this aspect of God’s character and implement it in their lives. Personally, God is really developing me in this area. I don’t know about you, but I used to have these perfectly planned-out scenarios in my mind of exactly how I wanted things to go. But then people are people and eventually fall short of our expectations. So, we can either get upset, or remind ourselves that God has been so gracious towards us and show that same love to others.

5. Peace ?

A peaceful friend is a friend that soaks in the presence of God. When we spend time in the presence of The Lord, it is impossible to be fearful. I John 4:18 tells us that perfect love casts out fear. An anxious friend dwells on circumstances they have no control over and many times anxiety is coupled with depression, and it is contagious. Of course, it is normal to experience sadness and anxiety, but we should bring that to Jesus and lay it at his feet. When we come into his presence and leave our fears there, he takes them and refreshes us with his Spirit. We are then able to walk away free and filled with love. There is a difference between having anxiety and handing it over to Jesus, and harboring and keeping it in our hearts. Scripture is super clear about it: you don’t have to have to carry anxiety. 

6. Faithfulness ?

A faithful friend is a long-term friend. These are extremely hard to come by. In my 21 years, I have only had a handful of friends that have stood the test of time. Only time can reveal friends with faithful hearts, but there are some red flags I have picked up on from weeding out unhealthy relationships in the past.

Unfaithful friends will befriend and entertain people who openly dislike you. This opens the door for back-stabbing, gossiping, two-faced relationships, and so on. Some people think this is an extreme stance, but these are real things girls struggle with, myself included! It’s easier to nip it in the bud and not even get close to people who hate your loved ones. There is less drama this way, and it ensures long lasting, healthy relationships.

I also feel compelled to add this regarding unfaithfulness: You may have been hurt by people who have left you and abandoned you. Friend, let me remind you that you are not alone and Jesus knows exactly how you feel. Judas straight up betrayed him, and when he was carried away to be crucified, his closest friends abandoned him. He knows how it feels to be alone and stabbed in the back. And even though people you loved, maybe even your family, failed or hurt you, He promises to never, ever leave your side. Psalm 27:10 says “Even though my mother and father have abandoned me the Lord will hold me close.”

7. Kindness, Gentleness, & Goodness ?

For the sake of time, I’ll lump kindness, gentleness, and goodness in one section. These are true attributes of the Holy Spirit. These friends are sweet and bring life wherever they go! They truly inspire you to be more like the Father! The opposite are friends who are forceful, rude, and mean. They are bitter and bossy.

8. Self-Control ?

Friends who have self-control fear the Lord. The bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I could go on and on, because this is one of my favorite fruits. Fear of the Lord is healthy and ensures that we walk within the will of God. It is not being afraid of God. Rather, it is being afraid of taking one step away from God because you don’t ever want to be separated from him. What separates us from Him? Sin. Self-control keeps us in check, in God’s will, and close to His heart.

Friends who have self-control do not pressure you to sin. They do not get wasted or high and lose control of themselves. I know in 2018 this isn’t the most popular opinion, but scripture is super clear on this subject. We are called to be sober minded. Alcohol is not the devil, Jesus drank wine, people! The danger is in losing your inhibitions and opening yourself up to any and everything which creates dangerous circumstances.  I will leave your convictions for how much to drink up to you, but scripture states in many places that being drunk is sinful, unwise, and dangerous. It is the opposite of self-control. I’m just using drinking as an example because it’s relevant in college. Some other prevalent examples are sex, drugs, eating, gossiping—pretty much any act where you cannot control yourself or find it extremely hard to say no. People with without self-control will constantly be putting you in compromising or even dangerous situations.

Maybe by now you are evaluating the relationships in your life and realize there are some that you should not continue to water and let grow. And let me be clear—people are not perfect. It is unrealistic to demand and expect all the fruits of the spirit on all your friends at all times.

Use this as a guide and seek God’s will on which friendships need to stay and which need to go through prayer.

Know the difference between disciples / people you are ministering to, and close friends. If you are discipling someone, your relationship with them is going to be different. Jesus ministered to thousands, had a handful of friends, but only had around three close friends. Your closest relationships should be friends that exhibit (or try their best to) the mentioned qualities.

If there are people in your life you keep pouring into but continue to exhibiting these weed-like qualities, I would really encourage you to let these people go. God will bring you flowers that will uplift you and add beauty to your life rather than take away!

And finally, evaluate this list for yourself!

Don’t put this all on your friends! Check yourself so YOU can be a good friend! God wants us to abide in his spirit and exude these qualities so we may be living examples of His love. We must show this love to our friends and even strangers! The world is broken and starving for it. When you begin living this way, you will attract like-minded people who chase after God. You won’t have to go around turning over rocks looking for godly friends. He will bring them to you as you do His will! Remember, you attract what you are, not what you want.

Prayer:

God, I ask that you would give me divine discernment from heaven to show me who needs to exit my life, and who you have brought into my path to walk alongside me. Holy Spirit I ask that you would fill me and help me embody the fruits of the spirit so I can be a good friend. Lord, I ask that you would bring me good, godly friends that love you and will encourage me to dig my roots down deeper into you. I ask that you would give me the strength to cut off and move on from unhealthy relationships. I ask above all that your will be done in my life. In Jesus name, amen.

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