We've missed the last two weeks in the sermon series at church (but enjoyed being in some other churches while we were on the road) so it was nice to be back to church this morning.
Pastor Efrem continued on the Stewardship of Relationships series with friendships today. He reminded us that relationships are a vehicle for God to use to advance His Kingdom on earth. Looking largely at David and Jonathan's friendship in 1 Samuel 18-20 (and also Jesus teaching in John 15), Efrem pointed out six principles of godly friendships for advancing the Kingdom and spiritual growth. These included trust, truth, confidentiality, consistency, accountability and reconciliation. We often become too quick to label someone a friend when the relationship isn't really there yet. And sometimes we surround ourselves with too many "friends," not giving ourselves opportunity to go deep with any one specific person. Friendships should be an extension of our relationship with God.
I've been learning in recent years that I haven't been a good friend to many people and that I haven't let myself develop deep friendships with others. I think a deep, close friendship is one of the basic desires (even a need) of all of us. Sometimes, however, we shy away from them, not wanting to expose our shortcomings and feel vulnerable, or risk rejection from someone getting to know us really well. That's why trust must be there before it can really be a friendship. And we all need that intimacy, we all need someone who can push us to become who God intends for us to become. As Proverbs 27:17 tells us, "As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another" (NLT).
I do have some good long-time friendships; I've also been making new ones this past year. My greatest friend is my wife. I may not have always treated her that way, but I'm learning to be a good friend in our marriage, too--and to let my wife be a friend who can sharpen me. So, thanks, for to all my friends out there.