I hung up the phone, and I felt heavy-hearted. The conversation had taken a negative turn, and now I wished I had just let the call go to voicemail. For many years, this friendship had been a source of joy and encouragement to me, but lately every time I engaged with this person, I ended up getting defensive because she disagreed with something I said. Other times, I cringed as she detailed a piece of juicy gossip I really had no business knowing. Honestly, the friendship had just become really yucky and uncomfortable. I wished I could just go back to the day we met and somehow hit the erase button to clear my mind of all the ugliness.
The enemy of our soul loves to create discord, and forging counterfeit friendships is one of the main ways he schemes to keep us stuck in a stronghold of sinful thinking. A conversation I had with my pastor really helped shed light on this in my life, and one sentence that he shared has helped me tremendously.
He quietly spoke truth over my troubled spirit and said, “Lyli, you need to stop fellowshipping with unhealthy people and develop uphill friendships.” The picture of a friend walking closely with me up a hill against the tide of indifference and toward holy living has transformed my thinking. Frankly, God has called me to love everyone, but that doesn’t mean I should share the intimate details of my life with just anyone. I want to link arms with women who are fully surrendered to Christ.
So, how do we distinguish between a counterfeit friend who is unhealthy and a Christ-like friend who is moving uphill?
- An unhealthy person holds grudges and gossips (Proverbs 17:9). An uphill friend forgives and maintains discretion (1 Peter 4:8).
- An unhealthy person creates discord out of a selfish heart (Romans 16:17-18). An uphill friend speaks the truth in love with a compassionate heart (Ephesians 4:25-32).
- An unhealthy person is filled with pride and lacks self-control (2 Timothy 3:2-5). An uphill friend displays humility and patience (Ephesians 4:2).
Investing precious time in unhealthy, counterfeit friendships can stunt our spiritual growth and keep us stuck in a cycle of sin. May God give us courage to stop engaging with negative influences and to develop encouraging friendships with uphill sisters in Christ. True friends help elevate our thinking and move us closer to Jesus.
Week 4 Challenge:
As we seek to develop and foster biblical friendships, we have a very real enemy who wants to destroy our work. Spiritual warfare is real and we need to be on guard in our relationships. This week, write out a specific prayer list for your friends, asking God to guard your relationships and theirs from spiritual attack.
Week 4 Reading Plan
Week 4 Memory Verse
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