How to Win Friends

By Marilyn Hickey

Did a friend ever let you down? Or have you let a friend down? I think most of us would answer “Yes” to both questions. There is a key to cultivating friendships; it’s found in the Bible.

Proverbs 17:17 gives a beautiful definition of friendship. “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” A true friend will love you no matter what happens; and when times get tough, he or she will stick with you. A friend knows the worst about you and still loves you.

Friendship Requires Spiritual Resources

The natural man does not have what it takes to be a true friend. It is difficult to be a friend to some people, especially when they really blow it. That is why it takes spiritual resources to be a good friend.

Years ago, one of our friends decided she would surprise me by painting a Sunday school room at our church. She picked out the color, and she and her son painted the room. When my husband took me into the room, I looked at the walls and said, “Oh, what a terrible color!” I didn’t know my friend was hiding in the closet. She was devastated! She ran out of the church, and I ran behind her asking her to forgive me. I
tried to stick my head in her car window to tell her how sorry I was; but she rolled up the window and drove off.

Wouldn’t you say that I had blown it? You’re right, I did. I went home and prayed. The Lord quickened Colossians 1:20 in my spirit. I repented for my actions, applied the blood of Jesus to this situation, and asked God to reconcile us. Before the night was over, she called to say, “Marilyn, I can’t be angry with you. My father is ill, and I need you to pray with me.” God restored our friendship that night.

Borrowing money can be a touchy subject. Suppose a friend said, “Marilyn, I need $1,000. Will you go to the bank and cosign with me? I can’t get the loan by myself.” Remember, this is my friend; and friends
are born to help in adversity. Should I cosign? “My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, stricken thy hand with a stranger, Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth,… Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself,…; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.” (Proverbs 6:1-4).

You are not to be surety. If you have already cosigned a note, get your name off that paper right away! If you do cosign for a friend, be prepared to make the money a gift. Then, if your friend doesn’t repay the loan, you can say, “Okay, it was a gift anyway.”

However, there is One Who is a perfect cosigner: Jesus. Jesus was made a surety for us (Hebrews 7:22). This means He cosigned for every debt, for every thing we will need in this life. If we cosign for other
people, we are trying to take Jesus’ place in their lives.

Friendship Requires Honesty

The next facet of friendship we want to discuss is candor: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:6).

Honesty in a friendship is very important. Several years ago, my husband was counseling a young man in our church who was separated from his wife. One Sunday I noticed a young woman from our staff sitting
with him in church. I went to her and said, “You know that this man is not divorced from his wife. Pastor Hickey is counseling with them, and your relationship could really hurt that marriage.”

She agreed and said that she was aware of the situation. Then I told her, “If you continue to see him, you cannot work for me because it’s unscriptural.” She said that she appreciated my “shooting straight from
the hip.” I replied, “Well, you understand my position. I love you, but it is unscriptural to break up a home.” I know she didn’t like it, but I had to be honest.

A month went by and as far as I knew, everything was fine. However, when I was away on a trip, I had a very strong burden to pray for her. I “knew” in my spirit that she was seeing this man again. So I called my office and asked Mary, our administrator, to check on it.

When Mary confronted the young woman, she replied, “Well, I saw him last night.”

So Mary asked her, “Do you know what that means?”

“Yes, I know,” the young woman said. “I’ll come and pick up my check.” She did, and she and the man went off in a huff.

They moved to a big city in the East. A few years later I went there for a seminar, and this couple attended. They were married and could not have been nicer, but we never mentioned the way they left.

One day while talking to my secretary on the telephone the young woman said, “You know, I’ve never been able to say this to Marilyn, but what she did was right. And if we had been in her position, we would have
done exactly what she did. We appreciate her honesty. We were wrong; but we have repented, and God has taken us from there.”

Do you see my point? The Bible says we are to “speak the truth in love.” That couple knew that I loved them. But I had to be honest; they were wrong.

Next, let’s look at counseling. The Lord has shown me how important it is just to be a friend to people. I’ve been a friend to some in the ministry and have been highly criticized for it. But I don’t intend to change.

Be sensitive to your friends.

I have a very good friend who was a pastor of a large charismatic church. I met him when I went to his church to hold a meeting. He came to pick me up at the airport and was very excited about the Word. About five minutes before the service was to start, he pointed out his wife, a very pretty blonde woman, and his children.

The next day he picked me up for my morning meeting. On the way to the meeting he said, “I just thought I’d tell you, I’m not living with my wife. We’re separated, but the church thinks we are together.”

It was one of the worst messes I have ever known. But the Lord dealt with me and said, “This man needs a friend; he’s wrong, but he needs a friend.”

Subsequently, he lost his church, his home, his family-everything. But the Bible says that “…the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29). This man was still called into the ministry, although he was not living a godly life at the time.

My husband spent days with him-praying and trying to help. We were the only people in the ministry who stood with him. He is not yet back in ministry, but he is beginning to flow in the Lord. We were honest with
him, but we also stuck with him.

We are called to be honest, to stand with people, and to exercise faith to see them through their crises.

Friendship Requires Thoughtfulness

Now let’s look at some very practical things that we, as friends, should not do: “Withdraw they foot from the neighbor’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee” (Proverbs 25:17). Don’t overdo your
welcome. Don’t run over to your friend’s house and stay there all the time. And don’t telephone every five seconds. You’ll wear out your friendship – you’ll ruin it.

Another piece of practical advice: “He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him” (Proverbs 27: 14). Be sensitive to your friends. If you are an early riser and they are not, be aware of it. If you call up and say, “Isn’t this a wonderful day?” and they are thinking, “And I could have had another hour’s sleep,” they won’t be too thrilled to hear from you. Be sensitive!

Now, I can hear some of you saying, “I’m lonely, I’d really like to know how to start friendships.” “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:…” (Proverbs 18:24). If you are grouchy all the time, you are not going to have friends. Friendship is not a miracle; it’s simply being friendly. Until you go where people are, you will never have friends. It’s just that simple. If no one speaks to you, speak to them! That’s what this verse is saying. But I didn’t quote the whole verse, it says: “A man that hath friends must shew himself
friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh close than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Who is that? Jesus. So if you say, “I don’t have any friends”; Jesus says, “I’m your Friend!” You have one; but if you want others, you have to be friendly.

Why Are Friendships Broken?

Next, let’s see how friendships are broken: “… he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends” (Proverbs 17:9). Don’t gossip and sow strife; you’ll break up friendships. God says, “Blessed are the peacemakers: …” (Matthew 5:9).

Let’s look at Jesus and His friendships. You say, “Well, Jesus doesn’t understand how many problems I’ve had with friends-how they’ve dropped me, how I’ve been hurt.” Jesus knows exactly how you feel: “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company” (Psalms 55:12-14).

Jesus feels everything we feel.

This refers to Judas. Jesus was saying, “Judas, My friend, when you betrayed Me, it hurt so much.” Jesus knows how it feels to be dropped by a friend-He was dropped too-He was betrayed.

Jesus feels everything we feel, and that’s why He is a friend that sticketh close than a brother. He understands us, and He will never reject us in any way.

Now I want to pray with you about your friendships: Dear heavenly Father, I want to be the kind of friend that Jesus is. I thank You for helping me to love at all time – even in adversity. Father, I ask You to give me friends that really love me – even when I’m in trouble. And Father, I’m going to help other friendships. I’m not going to be a whisperer; I’m not going to sow strife. I’m going to cover up transgression, because that’s what love does. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Is there a special relationship that you would like God to restore? Do you need more Christian friends? My prayer warriors are standing by to pray for your specific needs today-call (303) 796-1333, anytime.

(The above information was published by Marilyn Hickey)

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