Monthly Archives: September 2012
I am so lucky. I have a large group of trusted brothers and sisters in Christ who I can call on at any point in time for guidance, prayer, or just to catch up. These people are family to me, and I truly treasure their impact on my life. I can talk to my friends about anything — careers, love, politics, religion — and any of my friends would be able to hold an intelligent conversation full of encouragement and respect.
Do you have people like that in your life who you can turn to when you want or need to talk? More importantly, do you have friends who you can trust to encourage you in godly ways?
I recently realized just how unique my relationships are. It turns out that not everyone enjoys the kind of trustworthy advice and comradeship that I am blessed to receive. I often forget that my friends and I spent years honing this kind of deep and fruitful relationship.
Here is what I’ve thought of lately that makes my friendships solid:
- We’ve all spent countless hours together studying God’s Word, praying, and praising.
You bond with your family of Christ when you worship God together, just as you bond with your college roommate over TV shows and your siblings with your nerf gun wars. Staying in touch and praying for each other even when you’re not on the same continent is so important. Technology is a great resource for Christians. Capitalize on it!
“ We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.” 2 Thessalonians 1: 3-4
- We learned to forgive quickly.
We come from completely different theological and cultural backgrounds. We spent years stepping on each others’ toes with our conflicting theological viewpoints and our personalities. This means we learned to forgive one another. We learned to not just roll our eyes at each other’s quirks, but to embrace them. We actually listen to our friends’ opinions and consider them to be relevant rather than something to just tolerate. We don’t shy away from the difficult topics, but discuss them and learn.
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25
- We don’t gossip. We just don’t do it.
Nothing good can come out of gossip. We go out of our way to lift each other up in praise. If we’ve felt wronged by a friend, we take it to them quickly so it doesn’t fester. We must be quick to forgive and quick to say I’m sorry.
“A perverse person stirs up conflict,
and a gossip separates close friends.” Proverbs 16:28
- Judgement is futile.
There are definitely times when you should consider talking to your friend about hurtful or sinful behaviors. But sometimes — and perhaps you know what I’m talking about — you get this “I should really talk to ___ about ____, because they’re really annoying when they do this and need to grow up.” This isn’t a Holy Spirit prompting, it’s a you-wanting-to-fix-your-friend impulse. God works on His perfect timing. People are always growing in their relationship with Christ, and sometimes it’s not up to you to force feed them into a “better” direction. Keep in mind that other people are most likely thinking the same exact thing about you.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7: 1-5
- When one of us is having a difficult time, we empathize but we don’t stay in the pit of despair.
One of my closest friends has also been married a little over a year. When I’m confused or upset over something my husband has done, I turn to her for encouragement. She doesn’t say, “Yeah, my husband ___insert typical man fault here___ too! Let’s be irrationally angry at them together and continue to discourage one another!” Instead, she says, “Yes, I have experienced this difficulty. You will get through it, I promise! You love your husband and respect him, so speak with him about what’s upsetting you and pray about it.” When I get off the phone with her, I am never angry anymore. I feel encouraged, uplifted, and my emotions are in check. (By the way, my wonderful hubby is not a constant annoyance. He just served as a good example.)
“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:11-12
- We try to listen as much as we talk.
Every person has something valuable to offer. If you’re stumped, take it to your friend. If you need encouragement, don’t hesitate to call your friend and tell him or her so. It becomes clear that every person has their God-given strength. One person might emerge as a constant source of godly encouragement; another is the organizer of the events that brings you closer together. In any case, value each person for his or her gift, and trust them for what they bring to the table.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12: 6-8
What have you experienced from your group of brothers and sisters in Christ? What instances, “rules”, or Bible verses have kept you all happy and in healthy relationships? I’d love to know, so please comment to share!
If your group of friends isn’t quite there yet, don’t despair! It takes a lot of time and effort to have a deep friendship. My friends and I went through 4 years of college together in a very intimate environment, and we’re still learning. Follow the example of Christ in everything you do, and you’ll have great relationships in your life.