Friends come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve all had childhood friends, best friends, friends at work, long-distance friends, friends we’ve lost, friends we’ve found, seasonal friends, friends that irritate us, friends we confide in, friends we avoid, and friends that we hang out with. We are born with a deep desire to have and be a friend, but being a friend is not always easy.
What characteristics do you think exemplify being a good friend?
The early church struggled to exemplify good friendship. Outside pressures, traditions, selfish motives, and unforgiveness plagued their daily lives – sound familiar? Paul reminded the church that being good to one another was paramount. Friendship was fundamental in being unified and Christ-like (John 16). He reminded them what a true friend embodies.
Let’s evaluate how we compare to the standard that Paul put forth in Galatians 6:1-6.
A FRIEND WILL…
1Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
Correction requires an ability to prayerfully and kindly determine how to help a friend that is struggling, misguided, or confused. Each friendship is different. The required approach will vary, but using Galatians’ “Fruit of the Spirit” will ensure you’re being the friend that God desires.
How could you become kinder and gentler when God prompts you to correct a friend?
2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Serving requires that you take on your friends struggles as your own. Their pain becomes your pain, their hurts become your hurts, and their world becomes your world. This is what Christ did on the cross. This is why Paul referred to this act as fulfilling the law of Christ.
How could God begin to help you better carry the burdens of your friends?
Personally Evaluate (6:3-5)
3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load.
Personal Evaluation requires self-reflection, a deep desire to be accountable to the word of God, and being led by the Spirit of God. Personally evaluating our own life to ensure we are a good friend takes time, discipline, and deep trust and conviction in what God wants. We must desire to become the best representation of Christ we can – not for our benefit, but for the benefit of our friends.
If being a good friend means you are more self-reflective, accountable to the word of God, and led by the Spirit of God, how could you better personify these abilities?
Share By Do Good (6:6-10)
6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Being good is great in principle, but very difficult in practice. Without the Spirit of God leading and direction our thoughts and actions, the good that truly matters will not happen. God’s goodness should be expressed to everyone.
Who in your life would be difficult to express God’s goodness too? What might God be prompting you to do that would express his goodness to them?
A FRIEND IS NOT MOTIVATED BY…
12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
Fear is false experiences appearing real. When fear motivates people to persuade, impress, compel, or coerce others their motivations are selfish. The only time we can be confident that we are free from selfish motives is when we are motivated by Christ. This happens when we are not afraid of persecution. We must obeying scripture and following the leadership of the Spirit of God.
13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh.
Pride can corrupt the best of people. Pride forces people into manipulation. Pride will cause people to manipulate people and circumstances to ensure they look good. Scripture clearly indicates the only thing a Christian can have pride in is Christ.
In what ways may God be revealing how you allow fear and pride to be the motivation behind a friendship?
AN ETERNAL FRIEND IS MOTIVATED BY…
14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which[a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcised means anything; what counts is the new creation.
When anyone is touched by the transforming power of Christ they’re changed forever. Being right, appreciated, accepted, validated, affirmed, recognized, listened to, believed, and many others no longer matter. These things, along with a list as long as life, have all been gifted to us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ is what motivates a Christian to extend the hand of friendship, even if the hand is knocked down, ignored, or even cut off.
What may God be prompting you to do to become a, “good friend”? Who has he placed on your heart?