The Holy Spirit came into our heart, making it possible for us to have a satisfying relationship with the Lord and with each other. God’s people need to fellowship—we all need friends.
—Charles F. Stanley, “Right Relationships”
It still haunts me sometimes, the things I said to my best friend during our first and, really, only fight. Years passed, and we eventually reconciled, though our relationship has never been quite the same. One exclamation, fueled by jealousy, anger, and immaturity on my part, broke years of easiness between us. It’s one of the moments in life I am least proud of, and I’ve wished many times for a do-over. If only life worked like that!
It was with this regret in mind that I read Dr. Stanley’s wise words on Christian friendships. And I was struck for the first time by the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s work, both in and between us, if we want our relationships to develop in a peaceful and fulfilling way. Just as I desperately need the Holy Spirit’s help to discern rightly and grow spiritually, I also need His assistance to find like-minded friends and interact with them in a fruitful manner—with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). Those qualities don’t come naturally; they must be valued, sought, and practiced.
Just as I desperately need the Holy Spirit’s help to discern rightly and grow spiritually, I also need His assistance to find like-minded friends and interact with them in a fruitful manner.
Ultimately, the fruit of the Spirit is an outflow of His work in our hearts. Only He can strengthen and mature us into humble people who “consider one another as more important” than our own selves (Phil. 2:3-4). Only He can transform us into people who are able to give love and receive it from others—the very love that reveals who, and Whose, we are (John 13:35).