How many best friends do you have?
My son Klay has about fifteen. He uses that term very freely. If you’re playing with him and it’s going well he’s probably going to tell you, “You’re my best friend.”
He’s not being manipulative in his use of the term. He’s just very situational.
I’ve noticed the same thing among adults. We have lots of “best friends”, and I don’t really think the culture of friendship we’re creating is very good for us.
“Best friend” is a very sacred title.
It implies that someone has significant influence in your life and that you, inversely, have great access to theirs. A best friend is someone who knows you inside and out, with all the ugly and broken. A best friend is also someone you can find rest with, simply be who you are, and be fully accepted for that.
We don’t stumble across those friends often.
In a recent study, 45% Americans said they had six close friends, 40% said they had three to five close friends, and 15% said they only had two close friends.
The truth about friends is that we don’t have a lot of them, and our lack of friends has caused us to label anyone who comes close to becoming a “friend” as a “best friend”.
The truth is, they’re probably not your best friend.
They’re not your best friend unless…
1. You’ve survived a major disagreement.
Two people cannot agree on everything. If you’ve ever spent time with anyone for a great length of time, there is one thing that is certainly going to happen: friction. The Scriptures tell us that “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” in Proverbs 27:17. This means two things… First, the closer we get, the greater the friction. That’s simply called intimacy. The second, the greater the intimacy, the greater the potential for the relationship to refine us and grow us.
If you’re always running from “friends” because they disagree with you, that is probably keeping you from actually experiencing the benefit of a best friend! If you always run from people who have different perspectives, you’re probably missing out on broadening your perspective and being changed by God through relationships with others.
2. Your relationship is centered on something that goes against God’s will.
Every relationship has a center. I have a lot of friends who are Pastors. Our friendships center on the common experience of leading congregations and loving Jesus. We can relate to things others simply cannot.
It’s easy for a relationship to find a center that isn’t based on God’s Word or will. It can be an addiction. It can be a common struggle. It can be a lot of different things.
In Matthew 7:15 Jesus warned us, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.” Notice the wolf is disguised as a sheep, not a shepherd. The wolf looks like a friend, but they’re giving bad advice.
If your “best friend” is giving you advice that’s not supported by the Bible, they’re not your best friend. As a matter of fact, they are most likely doing more damage than good, even though they may be making you feel better.
3. Your relationship has survived a change in context.
Every relationship has a context. You make friends at work, but then you change jobs and never talk to them again. We’ve all experienced this. Remember high school? There were a hundred kids you talked to every day that you haven’t said a word to since you graduated. Why? Because you shared a common context.
It’s rare for a friendship to survive a change of context. It takes a lot of effort and intentionality. It takes planned trips and making room in your schedule for visits. Basically, it takes work.
The work, however, is worth it. With half of us saying we have less than five close friends, it’s important to learn how to hold on to those friends you have when you change contexts.
Either way… I’m praying that YOU discover the power of intimate, life-long friendship in a “best friend”, and that through that friendship God changes you!
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What’s keeping you from having a “best friend”?