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Four Levels of Friendships

            1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Be not deceived:  evil communications corrupt good manners.”  Therefore, it is important to establish levels of communications for each person we come in contact with so we do not corrupt the manners we are to have with them.  There are four different levels of friendship.  Each one has its own special freedoms, characteristics, and accompanying responsibilities that define what level of friendship it is.  When we understand these various levels of friendship, we will be more capable of discerning how we should interact with others.

The first level of a friendship is the level of acquaintance.  At this level, the friendship is characterized by occasional contacts, and both individuals involved have the freedom to ask general questions that reveal public information.  These individuals greet each other by name, are good listeners to each other, and can ask appropriate questions that reflect interest and acceptance.  It becomes one’s personal responsibility to look upon the acquaintance as a “Divine encounter,” and to seek out the Lord’s will to determine why this acquaintance was brought into our lives.  It is also important that a person learn to develop general questions for each age level that will be encountered from different acquaintances.  Because all people that we come in contact with are ultimately acquaintances, it would be wise to develop questions for children, youth, and adults, and know how to use the appropriate question for each acquaintance.

The second level of friendship is the casual friendship.  This level of friendship finds its place within the souls of two individuals.  The individuals in this friendship will have similar interests or activities they are involved in, and they have the freedom to ask each other more specific information such as each other’s opinions and goals in life.  At this stage of friendship, it is a person’s responsibility to identify positive qualities that are shown in the friend, and develop more specific questions to get to know the individual better.

The third level of friendship reaches a new level that is surpassed by the casual friendship and acquaintance.  This third level is a close friendship.  The close friendship reaches into the spirit of the individuals involved.  Because it has gone beyond the external level of acquaintance and past the personal level of the casual friendship, a close friendship reaches into the spirit of the individuals.  This produces true fellowship between the two people when their main focus is on the Lord.  This level of friendship is characterized by common life goals and the ability to share encouraging Scripture with each other.  They have the freedom to be involved in projects together that will be spiritually building for both of them.  It becomes their responsibility to visualize achievement in the other person to help them along with their goals and to design projects that they can participate in together to reach their common goals.

The fourth level of friendship is the intimate friendship.  At this level, both individuals are focused on helping each other develop specific character qualities in each other’s lives and are able to discern the basic causes of character deficiencies.  Both individuals in the intimate friendship have the freedom to correct blind spots in the life of their friend and they are committed to faithfulness, loyalty, and availability.  The responsibilities of both people involved are to have honest discretion with their friend and to encourage by giving positive direction.  They also should search the Scriptures together for keys to a solution to a problem and learn how to comfort each other through trials and sorrows.

            When each of these various levels of friendship are understood, people involved in the friendships will understand what limitations and freedoms they have within the bounds of the friendship.  As the friendship grows, they will have built a positive foundation for the Lord to continue to build their friendship.  If the Lord desires it to happen, two individuals will develop an intimate friendship that will remain strong because they understood the four levels of friendship.