It's funny how life works... I've been thinking about this topic of FRIENDSHIP a lot lately and even over this past weekend when I took Isabella and Rebecca to Disneyland with their friends it was on my mind.
And then wouldn't you know it that on the day Isabella isn't feeling well and we stay home from church, we decide to watch Charles Stanley on TV and the subject was...
You got it... FRIENDSHIP.
God works in funny ways, and I LOVE it! It was perfect for Isabella to hear this message as it isn't easy to find great friendships in middle school. I'm actually going to try and get Rebecca to listen to the message later tonight as well. By the way, Charles Stanley is from In Touch Ministries and he has such a humble heart, I love his wisdom and insight into Gods word. His message on friendship today was so great (you can click on the link above to find the message from today if you're interested in listening to it). I firmly believe it was meant for me to hear it today... so I figure it's probably something for YOU to hear too. :)
Honestly friendship is something I struggle with as an adult and did when I was a kid as well. I wonder if this is something a lot of people struggle with? Now as a wife and mother, I don't have a lot of free time and when I do then my hubby is the one I like to hang out with. He IS my BFF. I have a few sweet, sweet friends, but I don't have a huge group of friends I go hang out with, because I'd really rather be with Lance and the girls. But I also know having women friends in my life is very important. Having a few trustworthy friends is important and something the bible speaks about quite a bit.
Now you're going to laugh at this...but I've struggled with being shy in group settings since I was young! I've always been better on a one-on-one friend level. I still get very self conscious when I'm in a setting with lots of women. I know, I know, you're laughing right now because you know I've been teaching classes (of mostly large groups of women) for years now AND I host my own events with... you guessed it... large GROUPS OF WOMEN! lol (like I said earlier, the Lord has a sense of humor... trust me :P) It just makes it so clear to me that the Lord knows our weaknesses and He wants to prove to us that HE is in control of them, can USE them and he will take care of us THROUGH them...
But getting back to today's message. Here's some notes I took:
In order to build Godly friendships we need to know what kinds of friends we should AVOID. So lets take a look at some verses in Proverbs that speak towards the characteristics we do NOT want in our friends.(our ourselves for that matter)
I'm going to paraphrase so feel free to look up these verses to dig deeper. It says in:
Proverbs 20:19 - Do not associate with a gossip
Proverbs 22:24-25 - Do not associate with a "hot head"
Proverbs 24:21-22 - Do not associate with the disloyal and discontent
Proverbs 28:7 - Do not associate with the self-indulgent
Proverbs 29:3 - Do not associate with the immoral
Proverbs 13:20 - Do not associate with the fool
Proverbs 12:26 - Do not associate with the wicked
We BECOME who we associate with. It's just honest truth.
These are all destructive behaviors that go against what the Lord wants us to be focused on. But I know the list above is hard to read because we see our own sins in there. I'm not preaching perfection here. We should all look at ourselves and see what destructive behaviors from above that we may need to ask the Lord to change in us and forgive us for. But we also need to look at this list and see if that list describes the people we call our friends...
As a mother I've tried to teach our girls not to gossip, to be loyal, not to say mean things or talk bad about others. To be wise in their choices of friends and to look for friends who love the Lord and love others. But that's not to say they've always made those choices or that it's easy to find those kinds of friends.
The verse below speaks to this need for all of us to find those Godly friendships:
We want to build these kind of friendships in our lives and our childrens' lives.
To encourage wise and genuine friendships.
Let's understand something. God knows the power of evil and what the enemy wants to do. Just look at the verses in Proverbs above. The enemy would LOVE to bring you down by the company you spend time with. To distract you from what the Lord wants you to be doing... His plan for your life. So be careful who you are spending time with.
In Proverbs 17:17 it says "A friend LOVES at all times."
A TRUE FRIEND LOVES AT ALL TIMES. That's a pretty hefty saying there. I wish I was that friend because I can't say that I have always shown love. But I'm pretty sure the only TRUE friend that we are certain has always shown love is Jesus Christ. He is our example in all areas of life. In the bible journaling page above Proverbs 12:26 says" One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor (or friend), but the way of the wicked leads them astray." In Proverbs 13:20 it says "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm."
So now lets get to the qualities we DO WANT in our friends (and ourselves):
I'm going to warn you first... There are more than a few RISKS to being a TRUE FRIEND. It's a responsibility. It COSTS something. And you may get hurt. But in order to find the right friends, you need to BE the right friend.
Here are some things to look for in building true Godly friendships:
1. A friends' goal is to meet the needs of the other person over their own needs.
2. A friend gets rid of "self" and asks how can they help their friend?
3. A friend shares a common interest of faith. As a believer, for a true friendship to last, you need to have Christ in the center. Just like in a marriage relationship. It's one thing to be a friend to people who you want to witness to, but for a close relationship/friendship you need Christ at the center. (Proverbs 27:17 above) Don't you want to speak openly with your friends about the Lord? To share with them your struggles and your joys and have that in common?
4. A friend is willing to risk rejection and getting hurt to be your friend. Rejection goes straight to the heart doesn't it? But if you feel the Lord is showing you the possibility for a deep friendship, then you need to be willing to be rejected. Are we willing to love them whether or not they love us back?
5. A friend is committed to YOUR spiritual growth. Do we encourage our friends in their faith? Are we interested in our friend going to church? Reading the bible? Getting deeper in the word?
6. A friend prays FOR us and WITH us. Are you willing to spend the time to be their prayer partner?
7. A friend is loyal. Friends may hurt our feelings, we may get into arguments with them... but are we loyal to them anyways? Can we count on them? Can they count on us?
8. A friend cares. Oh I love this one! Do you have a friend that you can just TALK TO. Are you the friend that listens? Isn't it just the best when you have a friend that you know CARES! They don't even have to care about THE THING you are talking about, but you see that they care... BECAUSE YOU CARE! They pay attention. They get excited for you. They want to HEAR about it. Whatever it is and however long it takes you to tell them. They're not wishing you were done talking. They're not looking down or away or surfing their phone while your talking and just saying "uh huh... yes, sure..." They have a SMILE on their face, they are looking straight into your eyes and they CARE about you and are truly happy for YOU! (FYI, This is also what you want in a spouse...)
Oh how a TRUE Friendship is a treasure!
Found this quote on Pinterest... How powerful is this!?!
Do you want to be a true Godly friend?
Test your friendships based on those points above. And pray for those friends. If they are already in your life, value them like treasure. Thank God for them. Tell them how you feel. And be that friend to them.
It's not what we HAVE in life that really matters... It's WHO we have in our life.
Hugs to all,
"Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?" C.S. Lewis