Here’s a family devotional to explore friendship. We’ll dive into why it’s important to our happiness to have great friends and why it’s important to God that we be a great friend. You can cover one discussion topic per day, per week, or however works best for your family.
Discussion 1: Two are better than one
Two people are better than one. They can help each other in everything they do. Suppose someone falls down. Then his friend can help him up. But suppose the man who falls down doesn’t have anyone to help him up. Then feel sorry for him!
God designed us for friendship and loves it when we connect and encourage each other. You’ve probably noticed how you feel better after hanging out with good friends, but did you know that scientists have discovered that our brains release neurotransmitter chemicals called oxytocin and dopamine when we enjoy time with friends, face to face? These chemicals help us feel calmer and happier. There are so many benefits to developing close friendships. Not only is it good for us emotionally, it’s also practical. Friends can help us with both big and little struggles, and you can help your friends, too! Together, we can better get through this thing called life.
- Why do you think God designed our brains to release chemicals that help us feel calmer and happier when we spend time face-to-face with friends?
- How does it help you emotionally to have close friends?
- How does it help you in more practical ways to rely on close friends?
Discussion 2: Treat others the way you’d like to be treated
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
In the stories about Jesus Christ in the Bible, Jesus talks a lot about the value of real friendship and how to be a good friend. In Luke 6:31, Jesus gives us simple advice: Treat others the way we want to be treated. Notice Jesus didn’t say “treat others the way we get treated,” yet this is what our culture often tells us. All around us we hear the message, “If someone hurts you, it’s okay if you hurt them back. It’s fair.” But Jesus tells us differently. He tells us to be kind and forgiving, even to those who hurt you.
- Can you think of a time when a friend was nice to you even when you weren’t nice to them?
- How did this make you feel?
- Why do you think God wants us to treat others with kindness even if they are being mean to us?
Discussion 3: Forgive your friends as Jesus forgives us
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
In the Bible, there are several letters written by the Apostle Paul. The word “apostle” means “messenger,” and Paul was called an apostle because he was a messenger for God as he was one of the first people to share the Good News about Jesus. He helped start the first Christian churches and wrote letters to the church members, encouraging and guiding them. The really wonderful thing is that we get to read these same letters because they are recorded in the Bible. The Bible verse above comes from a letter Paul wrote to the Colossians, where he’s reminding the Christians to love and forgive each other. In essence, Paul is telling the Colossians how to be a good friend.
- What do you think Paul means when he tells the Colossians to “clothe yourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”?
- What are examples of ways we can do this with our friends?
- Does Paul tell us to only forgive someone if they apologize to us?
- What does it mean to forgive someone the way Jesus forgives us?
Discussion 4: Wash one another’s feet
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
In this Bible passage, Jesus washes his friends’ feet and tells them they should “wash one another’s feet.” Although he literally washed their feet, he’s giving us an example of how we should each serve each other. You may think your feet are smelly now, but in Jesus’ time people’s feet were even dirtier because they often wore bare feet or sandals and had to walk through a lot of dirt, or worse! Jesus gave us a great example of an act of love that is unpleasant to do, but it is also an example of something that is hard to receive. To let someone wash our feet means being vulnerable, letting friends see our “dirt,” letting them see our weaknesses. God knows that our friendships get stronger when we help each other and when we let our friends help us.
- In this Bible passage, Jesus washes his friends’ feet and tells them they should “wash one another’s feet.” Why does he tell them to do this?
- What does the story tell us about how we can help our friends?
- What does the story tell us about the value of letting others help us?
Discussion 5: Jesus is our best friend
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. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
In this passage, Jesus is talking to his closest friends, his disciples. Soon after this conversation, Jesus was arrested and crucified on the cross. He died on the cross to save all of us, so that we’ll get to go to Heaven and have eternal life! In this way, Jesus shows us that he is our best and truest friend. No matter what happens to us and no matter what choices we make, Jesus will always be our best friend. You can count on Jesus to be with you and love you, always and no matter what!
- What does it mean to love our friends like Jesus loves us?
- What are some examples of loving our friends like Jesus?
- What are some things you can do to remind yourself that Jesus is your best friend and loves you just as you are, always and no matter what?
Thank you for exploring the power of friendship. Not only is it vital to our happiness to develop close relationships, but you can also be a wonderful friend in a world that desperately needs your friendship.