5 Levels of Friendship and How to Know Who to Trust

(Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash)

Who are your closest friends—those who would lay down their lives for you and you for them? I call mine—"my five"!

Recently, while going through some journals and preaching notes, I found a lesson I taught four years ago on friendship. I taught it to a group of young ladies. Many of them shared how it changed their perspective on relationships. I wanted to put it in an article that might help others, even the gentlemen out there. I'm sure there are many great articles, blogs and teachings readily available on this subject. These thoughts are just from my personal experience and ideas.

Not everyone is your best friend, good friend, or friend. Best friends, life-long friends, are "handful friends." You can count on one hand who they are! I know it's true for me. Especially as I get older, the more I realize just how vital it is to know who your core friends are, your tribe, your five.

I've learned there are levels of friendship: Great friends.

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Good friends.

Friends.

Acquaintances.

And now we can add Facebook friends!

Let's start at the bottom and go up.

Facebook Friends: Those who have "friended" you on social media. Eighty percent of those people are not even considered acquaintances, right? We control how much they see and interact with us. Did you know there's a way to put people on a "restricted list"? I've been doing this for years. I don't approve everyone who sends me requests. Facebook says I have 269 requests just sitting in my requests file, but of the 2900-plus who are approved, only about 430 see everything I post. The others only see what I post as public status. Even still, of those 430, just a few are even casual friends.

Check it: Facebook Friends, Instagram and Twitter followers are not your great friends! Don't be fooled by the little bit you see on social media. The danger is that we know just enough about people that we think we know everything. We don't. Don't get trapped into thinking this is a real relationship. It's not.

Acquaintance: A person one knows slightly, but who is not a close friend. This is a casual, superficial relationship. An acquaintance isn't someone who knows your heart. This is a person who has become familiar with you to a certain extent. They know your name, they've had mild chit-chat and limited interaction. This group makes up the largest percentage of our relationships.

Check it: Acquaintances are not people to whom you can bear your heart and soul! Remember, you don't know them well enough. You're just not sure what they will do with that kind of knowledge.

Friend: A favored companion; one who is not hostile. A friend knows you pretty well. You interact on a regular basis. You enjoy their presence. He or she is not an enemy or hostile toward you. Thank God! "A friend loves at all times" (Prov. 17:17).

Check it: If you have a friend who seems to ignore you, avoid you, or doesn't invite you in, they may not be a friend. Consider them an acquaintance, maybe (refer back to that "Check it" point). If that person seems hostile, steer clear.

Good Friend (my definition): A favored companion who keeps in touch occasionally, many times just to check on you. This is the one you have a real relationship with, whether built many years ago or very recently. When you see each other, you pick back up where you left off, even if it was five years ago or just five days ago. You know a good deal about each other and your lives.

Check it: If you have some good friends, you are blessed! You should be able to trust them enough to share some details of your life. Be cautious, though; I wouldn't share specifics of private battles and thoughts with them. Not so much because they might disclose that information to others, but mostly because you don't know their deep pain and struggles. You may add to their load. Just enjoy great conversation and fun times! Pray and laugh together. "Rejoice with those who rejoice" (Rom. 12:15).

Great Friend (my definition): Someone who would lay down their life for you. This friend hits the sweet spot of your life. This is a friend who knows your inner struggles and doesn't judge you but does not allow you to wallow in them, either. This is a friend who loves you so much that if they have to make you angry with them to shake you from your dirt, they'll do it! "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion]" (Prov. 17:17, AMP). These are friends you can count on one hand, no doubt. The average, from most I've spoken with, have three. I'm thankful I now have five. My five! It's taken years for this tribe to be compiled in my heart. I'm grateful for them. I'll give you a little insight; one is my husband, one is my parents (I consider them one). Yes, I include them! Many cannot.

Check it: Be a great friend back. "This is My commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:12-13).

Check it No. 2: There is only one perfect friend; His name is Jesus. "A man who has friends must show himself friendly, and there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24). The indication here is that even blood family can't be for you who Jesus is. May we find security and comfort in knowing the one perfect friend. Even if you don't have a five, or a three or even a one, you can have the one today.

Margie Nix is passionate about the kingdom of heaven impacting the culture of women in every stage of life, in spiritual and very practical ways. Her messages are laced with deep spiritual insight and practical application, along with a good dose of everyday humor. Along with her husband, Keith Nix, she is co-founder of The Lift Church International in Sevierville, Tennessee, and the Extreme Discipleship Academy. In 2005, Pastor Margie gave birth to the Fashioned Ladies Ministry (FashionedConference.org). She is in demand as a speaker, and her blogs are widely read. Though being busy in the service of others is dear to her heart, she would say that her greatest ministry is to her husband, Keith, and their daughter, Isabella Faith. You can read more of her writings at MargieNix.com

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