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This devotional is inspired by the BACC February Sunday sermon theme “Strong.”

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
Proverbs 17:17

This Scripture teaches us that we are only as strong as our relationships are. The quality of your friendships will determine how well you can handle adversity.

Learning to develop strong relationships requires learning to develop spiritual relationships. Who better to learn how to develop spiritual relationships from than Jesus? In this Bible study we will look at seven qualities that defined and fostered Jesus’ relationship with Peter.

Spiritual friends have vision for other people

41The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

John 1:41-42 NIV

Jesus had a vision for Peter and who he was suppose to become. The first thing we learn about spiritual relationships is that they are driven by vision.

Do you have vision for the relationships that you have? Does that vision for your friends frame the relationship?

Spiritual friends entrust their hearts to others

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:17-19 NIV

The Kingdom of God was precious to Jesus. He was willing to entrust something that was near and dear to his heart to Peter.

Do you entrust things that are near and dear to your own heart to others? Who do you entrust with the keys to your heart? Who do you allow close enough to your heart to could inflict some serious wounds if they wanted to?

Are you in that vulnerable of a position in any of your relationships? Jesus was. If we want to build spiritual relationships we must be willing to entrust our hearts to people around us.

Spiritual friends confront sin

21From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Matthew 16:21-23 NIV

Jesus was willing to deal with sin in Peter’s life. Jesus did this because he knew that sin would prevent Peter from fulfilling his destiny. Dealing with sin is not just calling out sin in a friend, but calling them back to God.

Spiritual friends bring God into the equation. In your relationships do you confront sin in each other and help each other to overcome sin? Or do you avoid talking about sin and stay superficial?

Spiritual friends engage the heart

15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me? He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

John 21:15-17 NIV

Jesus was willing to engage Peter’s heart.

Even when it became uncomfortable for Peter, Jesus kept pushing because his goal was to free Peter of guilt. It takes multiple questions and a lot of patience to draw out someone’s heart..

In your relationships do you engage the heart to free your friends up from guilt, discouragement, and fear? Or do you engage your friends for other reasons (because your feelings are hurt, or you know it’s the right thing to do, or any other reason)? Changing your motives will help you build strong relationships where you can push past what’s uncomfortable.

Spiritual friends pray passionately

31″Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Luke 22:31-32 NIV

Jesus prayed for Peter. Jesus considered Peter’s temptations and challenges.  He prayed for how Peter would overcome sin and help people through the challenge that he was about to go through.

In your relationships are you devoted to praying for your friends? Do you wrestle in prayer for your friends to overcome their challenges and temptations? Do you have a vision for who your friends will become because of the challenges they are going through?

Spiritual friends push us beyond our comfort zone

4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

Luke 5:4-5 NIV

Just like any great coach, a spiritual friend pushes you beyond your comfort zone to be your best. This is what Jesus did with Peter.

Pushing someone beyond their comfort zone means having faith for someone when they don’t have faith for themselves. Do you push your friends to be their best? Is there friction in your relationships because you push each other or does comfort define your relationships?

Spiritual friends express need

36Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Matthew 26:36-38 NIV

Jesus expressed need for Peter. He wasn’t afraid of appearing sad or admitting weakness.

Do you let down and are you real in your relationships? How often do you express need in your relationships?

A spiritual friend not only helps and gives in the relationship, but also allows themselves to be helped.

Pick one of these qualities of spiritual friendships to work on building, and your relationships will get stronger.

Written by

Brian Nitta

Before Brian was a minister for the Bay Area Christian Church, he was a world class judo competitor from San Jose State University. His experiences as a fighter and as a counselor have given him a unique perspective that he brings to his contributions to Inspire.