BE A FRIEND
Building friends is one of life’s highest privileges. God’s first sentence after creating man was, It is not good that man should be alone (Gen. 2:18). We were created for friendship, not loneliness. Yet the reality of sin in our world not only turns us away from friendship with God, but friendship with others.
Faith in Jesus Christ not only restores a right relationship with God, but enables us to experience freedom from self, resulting in a new relationship with our fellowman. The Bible repeatedly, urges the followers of Christ to pursue friendship. Jesus commended His followers, Love one another, as I have loved you (John 13:34). This divine love is our identifying characteristic and the very proof of our relationship with God (vs. 35). The apostle John concluded his third letter with the statement, Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name (3 John 14). The early followers of Jesus apparently were known as the friends.
? * You encourage friendship by a spirit of acceptance. Halfhearted, conditional acceptance frustrates friendship. Upon receiving Jesus as Lord, you experienced complete acceptance by God. This unconditional acceptance is your model for accepting others. The Spirit of God replaces your cautious, calculating, conditional attitude with God’s unconditional love. Receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God (Rom. 15:7).
? * You encourage friendship by consciously seeking to be a friend. A man who has friends must himself be friendly (Proverbs 18:24). You show yourself friendly by taking the initiative in speaking to people. A pleasant smile and a cheerful word go a long way. This can be further expressed in quality listening, learning, and eventually entering into the circumstances of other lives.
? * You encourage friendship by exploring common interests. David and Jonathan of the Old Testament were military men. They enjoyed common pursuits. Their friendship was broad and deep. Common interests can provide a solid building block for friendship, provided they are honoring God.
? * You foster friendship by making a serious commitment. Jonathan and David agreed to be special friends by verbally promising to support each other throughout life – through every trial. They even bound themselves together by an oath. There was no back door to their friendship. Dramatically, Jonathan, the prince, shared the full and true meaning of friendship by giving to David, the shepherd boy, his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt. He committed himself to David without reservation. This kind of openness is probably the most difficult part of building friendships.
? * You encourage friendship by being generous with praise and sensitive with criticism. Add to this a good sense of humor, a double dose of patience, and a heaping tablespoon of humility.
? * You have friends because of Jesus. It is comforting and exciting to know that because of your faith, you are fused into God’s worldwide family and gain a host of friends universally. This is awesome and wonderful. However, that does not exempt you from the responsibility of cultivating special friends. You need those good friends at every step of life and to enlarge your Christian life.
BE A FRIEND