Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday - Friendship (Part 1)

Friends. The very word sends our thoughts to a special group of people that we tenderly call “friends.” At the same time, some of us might feel a sting as we think of past friendships that are now dissolved. Friendship, in all of its blaze and glory, is not without its bruises and tears.

The Bible has a lot to say about friendship. From good examples (Jonathan and David) to bad examples (Samson and Delilah), to blessings, to warnings, we see friendship woven throughout the Old and New Testament.

People also have a lot to say about friendship. Our pastors and youth pastors preach about it, our parents and grandparents fuss about it, and our friends (obviously) encourage it! Is there really a need to look at it any longer?

Not Just Any Friend
In the world today, girls are thrown together with many different types of people. However, we do not need to befriend everyone with which we come into contact. We must choose our friendships carefully and wisely. One way to choose friends is through the guidance of our parents. Though many girls do not care to have their parents “interfere with my life,” God has given our parents to us for this very reason! Perhaps if Samson had listened to his parents’ counsel and desires, he would not have fallen into Delilah’s traps and ultimately imprisonment and an early death (read Judges 14-16).

Another way to choose friends is through the guidance of Scripture. “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.” (Proverbs 27:12) Consider wisely the choice of friends you have.

What is a Friend to Be?
Friends laugh hysterically with each other at midnight; friends share their dreams and desires; friends wear matching outfits; friends sing duets; friends write notes and emails. Such glorious, happy-go-lucky types of friendship are what a girl often has, but is that all there is to being friends?

“And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.” (1 Samuel 23:16) The last part of this verse struck me: and strengthened his hand in God. A valuable friend to have is one who shares our beliefs and will strengthen our relationship with God. A true friend will pray for us, share verses with us, share how God is growing them, and . . . a true friend will even come to us and give us some (maybe unwanted) Biblical advice.

What types of people should we have as friends?
Older friends to mentor us (Titus 2:3-5)
Women such as grandmas, aunts, moms, our pastor’s wife, and other godly ladies should be special friends. God has placed them in our lives to help us live holy before Him. Older women have lived through the struggles we live through, they have learned from difficult mistakes, and they are full of wisdom that should be a treasure chest to any young lady.

Friends that we can learn with (Proverbs 27:17)
Our peers are probably the friends we seek out the most. These can be the “iron-sharpening-iron” relationships (those who are growing in Christ, reading the Bible, and striving to live a Christ-like life) or detrimental relationships (those who are living for self, without a thought of God). We need to evaluate our friendships to be sure that they are building us up in the Lord and not causing us to fall away.

Friends that we can encourage in the Lord (Galatians 6:1-2)
There are special friends in our life that may not be at the same maturity as we are (emotionally and spiritually). These are the friends that we can encourage and build up. At the same time, we must be careful that these “ministry friendships” are not pulling us down. It requires a lot of prayer and discernment (as well as counsel from our parents and older friends) to have this type of ministry friendship. Our younger friend must be growing, seeking to learn, and maturing; if such is not the case, we must carefully weigh if it is a friendship that God would have us to continue.

The Ultimate Friendships
“But I don’t have any friends,” some might say.  Please, please, please do not count this as a curse!!! This “friendless” time could be used in many ways by God. First, it can cultivate a warmer relationship between you and God. Secondly, it can draw you closer to your siblings (who are, in reality, your life-time friends). Thirdly, it could be a way of God protecting you from a harmful friendship. Remember that no friend at all is much more desirable than mixing with bad company.

Next week, Lord willing, we will continue to look at friendship with:
To Be A Friend
Broken Friendships

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