By: Jessica Cravens and Lya Dauphin
We asked two friends here at Shepherd Church who have been friends for over 10 years, Jess Cravens and Lya Dauphin, some questions on Godly friendship and this is what they said!
-What kind of friend does the Bible talk about having?
JESS: God knows that navigating this life is hard. He loves us so much that He has given us community and friendship. He wants us to not only walk with Him but also surround ourselves around other people that LOVE HIM and will always bring us back to HIM. There are so many verses on friendship in the bible. Here are a few of my favorites: Ecclesiastes 4:10 "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." and John 15:12-13 "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
LYA: As I went through my search of Bible verses about friendship, everything I came across pointed to friendships bringing goodness into one’s life. Genuine and authentic friendships according to God’s Word will revolve around joy, forgiveness, kindness, prayer, edification, encouragement, even sacrifice… It’s essentially LIFE-GIVING.
-How to seek Godly friendships?
JESS: Friends influence us whether we want them to or not. It is important for us to be intentional on pursuing Godly friendship and investing in relationships that brings us closer to God. Godly friends know when to lift you up and when to gently protect you from making a poor choice. They are honest and loyal. They pray for you and encourage you. My prayer for you is that God would give you wisdom when it comes to the friendships you choose to invest in. Proverbs 22:24-25 "Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared." and Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
LYA: For me, it was really about immersing myself in the things of God. Firstly, surrendering my life back to Him and then secondly, connecting with others who were doing the same. Authenticity, I believe, also plays a huge role in it, because it’s in vulnerability that you allow others to see who you really are and it’s that which creates closeness between people.
-How can I be a Godly friend to others?
JESS: Jesus is the purest example of a Godly friend. He loved deeply, He corrected and encouraged. He prayed and served. He layed himself down for the sake of others. He stands up for us and allows us to sit at the table with Him. He never leaves nor forsakes us. Jesus provides the greatest example for us to be the best Godly friend. John 15:12-13 "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." and 1 Thessalonian 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."
LYA: This question brought me immediately to Philippians 4:8 : “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” It made me realize that if I take this approach, applying those very things in my friendships, I can then be confident about how I am engaging in them.
-What characteristics do you look for in your friendships?
JESS: I would have to say, be the friend that you are looking for. The main characteristics I look for are unconditional love, support, willingness to challenge and full of grace. If having bad company can corrupt good character, I will do all I can to try and maintain friendships that will lead me closer to Christ.
LYA: I think for a friendship to be LIFE-GIVING, it requires some characteristics that are going to help you both grow. Because it is through growth that we experience a fuller Life. Those things for me, are of course mutual love, respect, but also accountability, honesty, grace and forgiveness, and DEFINTIELY someone you can laugh and be yourself with.
-What brings you closer in your friendships?
JESS: I believe one of the biggest things that has brought us closer is being open and vulnerable. Allowing myself to be fully seen, the good, the bad and the ugly. Being able to actually do life together and not feel like I have to hide things in fear of judgement. If we know life is hard, why would we not want to have a friend to help us get through? Praying and praising with us through every season. James 5:16 “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed.”
LYA: Vulnerability, hard times and difficult experiences, but also laughing together… there’s something so healing and therapeutic about laughter that really bonds people together! I have all of those with Jess and it’s why we’ve been able to grow and maintain our friendship for 10 years!
-Is there a moment where you knew that you would be friends with the other person?
JESS: For sure! I can honestly say that when I first met Lya, I knew that we would be really close. Sisters! She was someone who made me feel loved and heard. She made me feel safe to share and never uncomfortable with being me. We made it a priority to put God first in our friendship. (Life groups, prayer, worship, devotionals.)Romans 12:10 "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."
LYA: Yes! Literally the first time I saw her! I felt like I had met my soul sister. It sounds so weird and cliché, but I’ve never felt that way with anyone else! Not surprisingly, it was my first time attending our Life Group!
-What is something difficult that your friendships have helped you overcome? How did the other person help?
JESS: A few years ago, I lost my mom suddenly. It was one of the hardest and most painful moments in my life. Having a friend who loved me through it helped the weight feel lighter. Being able to share memories and emotions. Knowing I was being covered in prayer and reminded constantly of God’s love through her and other friends/family was my saving grace. Life is hard and we will all go through something, having people around to help carry the burden makes it just a little easier. Galatians 6:2 "Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ." and Proverbs 17:17 "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity."
LYA: For me, it was overcoming the end of my 6 year relationship, especially because my identity was so attached to it. I had made a lot of mistakes while I was in it and my friends, spoke God’s truth into my life reminding me that despite all my sin, I could have a fresh start. That was huge for me… they didn’t treat me how I had been treating myself… they showed me God’s grace and were so encouraging and patient with me as I traversed through that season of finding myself again.
-How do you keep God at the center of your friendship?
JESS: Be intentional about who your friends are. If your friend loves Jesus first and seeks Him, then keeping God at the center will be a lot easier! With life being busy, we have to make the effort to invest in each other. Investing by praying, encouraging words, sending scriptures or worship songs. Keeping God at the center is the only way we can have a healthy friendship.
LYA: That happens naturally when God is already at the center of your life; everything else flows out from your relationship with Him. Your conversations will bring you back to Him, the places you go together will reflect it, and your words and conduct toward each other will look differently than if they were void of God’s involvement in your lives. Also, continuing to ask “How can I show Jesus to my friend today?”