Levels of Friendship
Friendships can be among the most rewarding and the most frustrating relationships in our lives We are told that friends love at all times (Proverbs 17:17), only wound us in ways that are trustworthy (i.e., tough love; Proverbs 27:6), are more loyal than family at times (Proverbs 18:24), provide mutual edification (Proverbs 27:17), can impart wisdom (Proverbs 13:20), and they may even sacrifice themselves for us (John 15:13).
Level 1. Associate
This one has some gray area. Most of the time, you see your associates more than your own family. You all spend enough time with one another. You get to know them better, understand their likes and dislikes, and have a grasp on their personality. This might cause you to consider these people friends, but answer this: Can you bring your associates around your current non-work/church/ friends and not feel uncomfortable? If you can’t then they are strictly associates nothing more. If you feel the need to separate your associates from your life outside the home, then they are far from friends!
Level 2. Casual Friendship
A casual friendship can develop quickly, even during your initial contact with an individual. As you discover common interests, activities, and concerns, you may be given freedom to ask more personal questions. For example, you could ask questions about their goals, wishes, or opinions.
According to the Bible, true friendship is characterized by love.
Level 3. Fellowship
A fellowship friendship involves oneness of the soul (the mind, will, and emotions), but a close friendship—fellowship—reflects oneness of spirit. We can have many acquaintances and casual friendships with both believers and non-believers. However, true fellowship requires that both persons share the same life goals.
Level 4. Close Friendship (Hardest one)
The fourth, and deepest, level of friendship should be based on a commitment to generously invest in one another’s lives with the goal of helping each other mature in Godly character. Honesty, humility, and discretion are requirements of an intimate friendship. Comfort one another through trials and sorrows; pray diligently for one another. This is the David and Jonathan relationship. So great was their friendship that at one of their partings, “they wept together, but David more so” (I Sam. 20:41. At this level, friends have freedom to correct one another and point out each other’s blind spots. Some people will never experience this level of friendship.
However, the truest friend is Jesus. John 15:12-15 says, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." Friends are like-minded.