“For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;”
One of the greatest influences that destroys or builds an individual is their friendships. Many good people have been destroyed because of their weak friendships. I have seen people who had so much spiritual potential destroyed because they acquired a wrong friend who influenced them to go the wrong way or do the wrong thing. I often tell people that a person is only as strong as their weakest friend.
In Philippians 1, God shows the building block test for friendship. Three times God talks about having “fellowship.” This word comes from the word “fellow” and the suffix “-ship.” “Fellowship” literally means the conditions that one shares with another. In other words, God is giving the believer the conditions of friendship. Let me share with you the three conditions of friendship that God gives in this chapter.
First, friendship will be found in the same purpose. The verse above talks about “fellowship in the gospel.” In other words, you will find your friends when you are pursuing the same purpose. Friendship should never be something that you seek out, but it should be a discovery of someone who you find at your side pursuing the same purpose. Many people get themselves into trouble because they seek friendship. Instead of seeking friendship, you should get busy serving the LORD and you will discover friends who have the same purpose. You will find that the greatest friendships in life are those who are pursuing the same purpose as you. The discovery of friends in the same purpose produces greater and stronger friendships than the friendship that is sought out.
Second, friendship will have the same spirit. Philippians 2:1 talks about having “fellowship of the Spirit.” Many people find friends when they join forces against a common enemy instead of becoming friends because they are striving together in the Spirit. Becoming friends with someone based on a common enemy is not the foundation upon which strong friendships are built. Friendships built on prayer, soul winning, and a desire to see God do something great through your lives will result in lasting friendships. I still have friends today that were built on the “fellowship of the Spirit.” There are people I became friends with as a young man who had the same desire to see God do something great that I am still friends with today. Your friendships with people need to be built on the spiritual and not the carnal. Strong friendships are discovered when you find people who are in the same yoke and have the same desire to see God do something great through your lives.
Third, friendship will suffer together. Philippians 3:10 talks about the “fellowship of his sufferings.” The first two areas discussed in this devotional shows you how you find friends, but this point is where friendship is strengthened. You often discover your truest friends in times of suffering. True friendships are not found in the good times, but the truest friendship is revealed in the times of suffering. You will find who your true friends are when you go through the battles, and when you are experiencing heartache. The truest friends are those who stand by your side when you have nothing to give back. Always remember that it is a great thing to have friends, but it is fulfilling to be a friend to your friends who can do nothing for you.