Spiritual Friendship – Gospel in Life

Spiritual Friendship

Tim Keller |  June 1, 2008

Download Agreement

By downloading this file, I confirm I understand Gospel in Life's Copyright & Permissions policies and agree to only use this file for personal usage and will not upload it to any third-party platforms.


  • Discipleship and Spiritual Growth
Galatians 5:26-6:5
RS 202-09


In this series, we’ve been saying beliefs don’t automatically change your life. They have to be instilled into your heart through spiritual disciplines, through Christian practices. I’d like to talk now about a Christian practice you probably don’t think of as a practice—the practice of friendship, especially friendship between believers.

Friendship only happens to the degree you work at it. The ancients considered it the most virtuous of all the loves—because it was the most deliberate. The Bible understood, like all ancient people, how important friendship was. The practice of friendship was something Christians were to extend to everybody in their Christian community.

That didn’t mean there weren’t levels of intensity. Jesus said to his twelve disciples, “You’re all my friends,” and yet, John was his best friend, and Peter, James, and John were close friends. With some people you practice more intensely, but the Bible says all other believers in your Christian community must be friends. You must practice the disciplines of friendship.

There are two great features of friendship. In Galatians 5 and 6, let’s look at 1) the constancy of friendship, 2) the intimacy of friendship, and 3) the power to fulfill them.

Galatians 5:26–6:5

Our lives can be powerfully shaped by our beliefs, especially when these beliefs become deeply rooted in our hearts through spiritual habits. One such practice is Christian friendship, a special kind of love that’s different from family love or romantic love. It takes work, which is why Jesus called his disciples friends. As followers of Jesus, we are encouraged to form and nurture friendships that show two important qualities: constancy and intimacy.

1. The constancy of friendship

Real friends stick around. They are firmly by your side, ready to shoulder your troubles, even if it causes them discomfort. This is something that Jonathan Edwards, a famous preacher, emphasized. It’s about fulfilling the biblical instruction to help carry each other’s burdens. The Bible even says in Proverbs 18:24 that a true friend stands by you through thick and thin, even when it’s tough.

2. The intimacy of friendship

Being close to your friends is essential. This is particularly important when a friend is struggling with wrong choices. Our response should be loving and aimed at helping them to get back on track. Correcting them should be done gently and humbly, much like carefully fixing a dislocated bone. This shows them love and understanding. At its core, friendship should be built on intimacy, constancy, and trust.



I Am the Vine

By Tim Keller

How to Change

By Tim Keller

Hope for the Church

By Tim Keller

June Book Offer

Deepen and Strengthen Your Marriage!

Marriage is one of the most profound human relationships — but it can also be one of the most challenging. So Tim and Kathy Keller designed a devotional book for married couples to use together.