What Is the Biblical Way to Avoid Fake Friendship?

The pain of losing a dear friend is unbearable, but after being stabbed in the back by a trusted confidant, choosing a friend becomes more cautious. What are some biblical directives for avoiding being or making fake, self-absorbed friends?

Updated May 06, 2024
What Is the Biblical Way to Avoid Fake Friendship?

The pain of losing a dear friend is unbearable, but after being stabbed in the back by a trusted confidant, choosing a friend becomes more cautious. What are some biblical directives for avoiding being or making fake, self-absorbed friends?

King David knew about fake friends. When his son, Absalom, rebelled in an attempt to usurp the throne, David’s highly regarded counselor and advisor, Ahithophel, sided with Absalom. David’s Psalm 55:12-14 reflects the hurt. “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God as we walked about among the worshipers.”

Another heart-wrenching betrayal is that of Judas Iscariot, once among Jesus's disciples and closest friends. For a mere 30 pieces of silver, he facilitated Jesus's arrest, identifying him to the authorities with a deceitful kiss. 

Even amidst betrayal and deceit—acknowledging our imperfections—forging genuine friendships offers invaluable qualities like love, loyalty, stability, and wisdom. Despite our inevitable mistakes, lapses in judgment, and regrettable words, true friends accept us with all our flaws. Cultivating such meaningful connections demands patience, dedication, and unwavering commitment.

Jesus painted a picture of friendship. Of the twelve He chose, one betrayed Him, and another failed Him. Though Peter denied knowing Jesus the night of His arrest, Jesus saw past that failure to Peter’s true heart. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted,” unlike the latter part of the same verse that depicts Judas, “but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6). Peter messed up.  Still, he repented, and Jesus restored him because. “Love covers over a multitude of sins” (Proverbs 10:12). 

Jesus exemplifies the essence of true friendship. In John 15:13, he declares, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends," embodying selfless sacrifice, unwavering support, forgiveness, wise counsel, and the sharing of values and faith. He goes on to affirm the depth of friendship in John 15:15, stating, "I no longer call you servants ... Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I learned from my Father I have made known to you." Friendship, therefore, mirrors the boundless love and eternal values of God.

Jesus sets a high standard for friendship. Emulating His love is achievable when we choose to love others as He loves us—the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:39). How can we do that? First of all, we recognize we are humans and fall sometimes. We pick each other up. We forgive. We have each other’s back. We treat our friends like we would like to be treated – with understanding, not holding onto a past mistake to use as a weapon later. The golden rule in Luke 6:31 really does apply: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

The best friendships do their best to fulfill Jesus’ mandate: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” - John 13:34

True friends emulate God’s love.

Authentic friends do their best to exhibit the traits of 1 Corinthians 13.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails.

Consider the story of Julie and Emma. Julie and Emma have been friends since high school and have worked through their differences. However, lately, Emma tends to hold onto past grievances and brings them up whenever they disagree. When Julie was stuck in traffic and arrived 15 minutes late to their planned lunch, Emma brought up Julie’s forgetting her birthday two years ago. She accused her of being inconsiderate and unreliable. Although Julie sincerely apologizes, Emma dwells on instances where Julie let her down. Whenever Julie makes a mistake or does something to upset Emma, Emma quickly reminds her of every misstep, making Julie feel guilty and defensive. This constant dredging of past wrongs creates a toxic atmosphere in their friendship, preventing them from moving forward and resolving conflicts healthily.

Despite Julie's efforts to improve and make amends, she feels like she's walking on eggshells around Emma, afraid of triggering another barrage of past grievances. Eventually, Julie begins questioning whether this friendship is worth its emotional toll on her. Genuine friendship is built on forgiveness, understanding, and letting go of past mistakes. Unlike a fake friend,

Authentic friends exhibit good character. 

We are to guard against being or having a friend who is easily angered, unwise, or self-seeking.   Wise and righteous besties lead to personal growth and wisdom (Proverbs 13:20), unlike hot-tempered people with negative behaviors whom we should guard against (Proverbs 22:24-25). 

“Bad company corrupts good character.” - 1 Corinthians 15:33

Good friends are well-informed and learning

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20

Becoming a better person is part of sharing a sweet friendship as we help one another be accountable to spiritual disciplines and move closer to Jesus. 

Genuine friends listen and care. 

Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, one of the best-selling books of all time, says, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” When the conversation isn’t one-sided, listening and caring lend support.

True friends accept you. 

One of the first bonds of friendship is finding someone who shares similar values, which draws us to one another. C.S. Lewis says, “Friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another, “What! You Too: I thought I was the only one!” 

A true friend rejoices over your success

Good friends support us in hard times and success. Oscar Wilde said, “Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s success.” Proverbs 3 encourages us that wisdom bestows well-being. “Let love and faithfulness never leave you...then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” (3:3-4). 

Genuine friendships endure. 

For decades, even before the arrival of our children, a cherished couple has been priceless companions in our lives, particularly during our most challenging moments. Despite the physical distance that now separates us, the bonds we forged through shared family vacations, meals, prayers, laughter, and tears have left indelible marks on our hearts. Though miles may divide us, the enduring seeds of friendship sown over the years keep us connected as invaluable treasures to one another.

Ruth Graham said that when we haven’t seen a dear friend for a while, or even years, it’s like a good book: You pick up where you left off, and a new chapter begins.

Love never fails. 

True friendship has consistent support and trust. Love always “protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:7). And that kind of love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. Such friends refrain from a “me-first” mentality with selfish motives. Anger is quickly dealt with in a forgiving way that holds no grudges. 

Is there biblical wisdom to guide us away from fake friendships? 

Yes, indeed. The key lies in embracing the biblical principle: "Lay down your life for your friends,” carried out through the practical application of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  True friends emulate God’s love, possess healthy character, offer acceptance, attentive listening, and unwavering support. They celebrate your victories, offer sound counsel, and stand by you through life's trials. Thomas Aquinas said, “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship,” one of life's sweetest merits, both in the present and eternally.

Photo Credit: Prostock-studio/Konstantin Postumitenko via Canva Pro

SWN authorJudy McEachran loves to worship the Author of life and love. She is an ordained pastor and gifted musician who writes and speaks to encourage believers. She pastored churches in the Midwest and after retirement moved to Arizona. She is humbled not only by the gracious love of God but by her devoted husband, two sons, and ten grandchildren. You can visit her website at God Secrets that Impart Life. Find her music on YouTube. Judy’s natural musical giftings invite worshippers into the presence of the Lord.


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