Sunday, 23 February 2014


Friends. We all need them.Ecclesiastes has the idea of friendship right: two ARE better than one... 
It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough!
By yourself you’re unprotected.

With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped
Ecclesiastes 4:9 - 10. 12

How lovely, to have a friend looking out for you, working hard with you...

And Jesus says...he says, again and again...  that love gives and gives, even to the point of giving even life itself, embracing death for the One loved, the Friend...

Look at his words:
This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. John 15:10 - 14

Command. Such a strong word. It means to give an order : to tell someone to do something in a forceful and often official way; to have authority and control over a group of people, such as soldiers.

Loving one another is NOT OPTIONAL.

And so, when we think of friendship, this is how we do it:
Be even-tempered, content with second place,  quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Colossians 3:13 - 14

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:29. 31 -32

And how do we do this? A little verse slipped into the middle of the advice in Ephesians tells us:
Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Ephesians 4:30.
Just stay focused, then. Keep my eye on The Main Thing. Loving God, loving Jesus, loving His Spirit in me.

And what is love? When I love my family, my husband, my children, my friends, I find myself obsessed with their welfare, rejoicing over their gifts and talents, happy they are in my life.

So too I can be obsessed with the Spirit's 'welfare' in me, taking care not to hurt in any way; rejoicing over the many ways the Spirit works through a multitude of gifts and talents, happy to have the Spirit in me, in my life...Loving.

And so, as I consider how to better love my friends, I read:

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:6
I can trust a friend, knowing that they have nothing but the best in mind for me.

Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight,
a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.

I can rejoice in the refreshment and recreation a friend gives me.

Don’t leave your friends or your parents’ friends
and run home to your family when things get rough;
Better a nearby friend than a distant family.
Proverbs 27:9 - 10
I can rely on a friend to be there for me.

You use steel to sharpen steel,and one friend sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
I can be sure that a friend might spark against me at times in a clash like hard metal, but that this will be for my good.  A friend sharpens me up: makes me grow; spurs me on to become more fit for purpose.
Because a blunt knife is useless.

So when our friends annoy us, or unintentionally hurt us, how do we bear with them, build them up and keep on believing in them?
How deep is the friendship?
Is it worth fighting for?
What do we do?
1 Corinthians 15:33 says: Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” We need to be sure that our friend IS truly a friend. If not, can we let go of the friendship?

Jen at Good Morning Girls notes:
"Not all friendships are beneficial. There are some people who will drag us down, bring out the worst in us, and tempt us to sin. (1 Cor. 15:33)

We need to surround ourselves with people who will make us better Christians, encourage us in our marriages, cheer us on in our parenting, and will speak the truth when we are wrong. Who will love us through it all.

“He who walks with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Pro 13:20).

We will not only be influenced by the company we keep, we will be known by it. This makes it important to seek out friendships with people who will lead us to walk with and become more like Jesus. And let me give you some good news. It is not common interests that solidifies a friendship, but a common Savior. The bond we have with Christ trumps differing personalities, styles, passions, and hobbies so that we are able to have strong, deep friendships with other sisters in Christ.

Not only do we need to seek out godly friends, we need to learn how to become this kind of friend ourselves. This is something many of us neglect. We want good friends, but do we want to be a good friend? Jesus calls us to this. Of course a good friend will point other to Jesus, but here are a few things necessary to being a good friend that leads others back to the gospel.

Being a good friend will mean:

1. Giving up our own preferences
There is no room for selfishness in friendships. We need to be willing to give up our own preferences for the good of another person. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, ESV) A good friend will seek to honor and bless those around them.

2. Speak truth kindly
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Pro 27:6)

One of the responsibilities of a friend is to reprove when it is needed. But doing this well requires grace and wisdom. It is not our job to become busybodies, but it is our job to gently and kindly correct if we see our friend walk in a way that is dangerous or in conflict with God’s word.

This means we must also be friends who are willing to hear and accept the reproof of a friend. This shows great spiritual maturity. While it may hurt our feelings we need to remember that truth spoken in love will be used by God to bear fruit in our lives.

“Let a righteous man strike me — it is a kindness; let him rebuke me — it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it!” (Psalm 141:5)

“Yes, rebuke a wise man, and he will love you” (Pro 9:8)

3. Be Wise
Bring a good friend demands wisdom. Without it it is easy to overlook sin and danger, or become overly critical. It’s not just reproving that we must care about, but how we reprove. Can we discern the needs of our friends? What will effectively encourage them in their Christian walk? All of this, and much more, requires wisdom.

It costs to be a good and godly friend. We see the ultimate friendship in Christ. He is wisdom personified. He spoke the truth, and is the truth. And his friendship toward us took him all the way to the grave, for our good. He did more than lay aside preferences, he laid down his life. “Greater love has no man than this: that a man lays down his life for his friend” (John 15:13). Are we willing to lay down our lives for the good of another?

But this cost is the very gold of life!
It is the only antidote for selfishness!
It is the way of Christlikeness!
JR. Miller"

Some more questions to think about from Good Morning Girls:
In this fast paced, technology-driven world, I wonder if the face-to-face, intentional “coming alongside” kind of friendships are becoming more and more of a lost art.

Are we replacing real-life relationships with online acquaintances? 

Are we hung up on the imperfections of others, or are we quick to encourage, forgive and love generously in our friendships? 

Even more, have we isolated ourselves to the point of hindering the gospel?

And some more questions, from an incourage post:

Do you have people in your life that help to give you an unobstructed view of yourself?
Do you have friends who challenge you, inspire you and broaden your view of eternal things?

Are you that kind of friend?

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