3 Ways the Gospel Can Transform Your Friendships

Ugh, why does friendship have to be so hard?

Remember the simpler days of elementary school when sharing a Lunchable made you instant friends? Don't we all wish it could stay that carefree?

Why is friendship so messy? Friends can be a deep source of comfort but also a deep source of pain and confusion. Here are three ways the Gospel has the power to transform our friendships.

The Gospel gives you freedom to enjoy friends rather than what they can give you

We all feel it, the desire to be someone's "person." We want stability and companionship. God designed us with these longings because they were all once satisfied in our relationship with Him! However, the first man and woman desired to be like God and chose to disobey Him.

This sin separated us from God and changed relationships forever.
Now, we often run to friends as our first source of comfort, affirmation, and defense against loneliness. We do this because friends can be a comforting gift to us, but when we expect them to fill empty places in our hearts meant for God, we strap them with heavy expectations they were never meant to carry. As they buckle under the weight of our unmet expectations, we crush them and we are left feeling thirsty and alone.
Jesus recognizes that we are thirsty, though. He tells the Samaritan woman in John 4 that He is the fountain of living water. He is calling her to trust Him as the never-ending source that will truly satisfy her needs. He promises that anyone who comes to Him will never thirst but will have eternal life.

When we trust Jesus as the ultimate One to meet our needs, then we can free our friends from unattainable expectations. Only then can we authentically enjoy them for who they are rather than what they can give us.

The Gospel gives you freedom from resentment

Do you have resentment toward a friend for past hurts? Maybe you've tried to forget it but it frequently comes back to mind or has led you to avoid them.

Healthy friendship does not mean you will never hurt your friends or be hurt by them. The way you deal with that hurt, however, is drastically different with the Gospel.

In response to our sin against God, He initiated to us. The One whom we selfishly sinned against selflessly sent His Son to die in our place (John 3:16). He did not declare us guilty, but forgave us that we might have a relationship with Him. This is the same way God tells us to respond when we are offended by others (Matthew 5:23-24).

Imagine how forgiveness could change our relationships. What if we humbly shared ways we have been hurt rather than stuffing them or bringing them up passive-aggressively? How could our relationships flourish if they were marked by forgiveness and engagement rather than lurking resentment?

Our pride will encourage us to self-defend and argue our righteousness rather than encouraging forgiveness. However, the Gospel gives us security outside of ourselves. It tells us that we will not have a perfect record and neither will others. Jesus' perfect record represents us before God; this enables us to own our wrongdoings and to forgive others for theirs.

The Gospel gives you freedom from earning approval

Do you feel like you have to prove yourself in relationships? Maybe you want to show that you are a good friend but feel like you can never quite measure up.

We often respond to God in the same way, don't we? We recognize a relational gap between us and attempt to fill it with good works to earn His favor. The best news of the Gospel is that our earning is over. Because of Jesus's work on the cross, we have no more debt that is owed to God. His approval of us is secured not by what we do for Him but by what Christ has done for us.

Think about how that truth could impact our friendships. Instead of constantly working to make sure we have done enough, we could feel safe and secure, knowing that our relationships aren't based on how we perform.

So, when you feel condemned by the voice that says you have not been a good enough friend, remember the cross. Remember that the same one who said "there is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for his friend" actually died for you. In all the ways that you fall short in friendship, he did not. He is the one who now stands in your place, proclaiming that your earning is over.

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