So, this past week for Spring Break, instead of heading for the sunny South or even moderate Southern Iowa, I loaded up the family and trekked to Northern Wisconsin a day before the snow fell once again. We were not really seeking out a ski vacation or even a fun indoor water park, but went to visit friends we had not seen in person for some time. It was an opportunity to see the families of a couple different friends I have had now for decades. One friend has been a follower of Christ for about the same amount of time as I have, and who I try to meet up with at least once a year. I have been an ‘uncle’ to his 9 children and watched them all grow up over the last 15 years as well. We can talk on the phone from time to time, but meeting in person seems to be a good practice as well. People change, families change, and the world we live in changes, but God doesn’t, and it is good to have a few friends to confide in about these things. Are there relationships you value and invest in on a regular basis?
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
How do you tell your true friends from those who are not? Maybe you recall a time in High School where your friends changed like the seasons? Some may say things to drive a rift in the relationship, some move away, and others may just start running with a new clique or group of friends. Even with ‘friends’ on Facebook and other social media, have you ever wondered where some of your childhood friends ever went? Hopefully, as you matured, you found friends or family in whom you developed long term trust and friendship over the years. For a variety of reasons, it is good to have a few close relationships in whom you can confide most anything and with whom you show love and forgiveness. Often the relationship is mutual, where you share struggles with one another, but it can also be in the form of a mentor who has good advice for those willing to listen. Have you had others like this in your life? Do you now?
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
I’ve always said, when you hang out with someone different from you, either you tend to become more like them, or they become more like you, whether a friend or a spouse. Who has the greater influence? This is not to discourage you from talking with non-Christians, but maybe temper what activities in which you choose to participate together. Whether it is running, working, managing money, praying, or any other skill in life, when you spend time with someone who does things better than you, you tend to improve your skills as well. They rub off on you. So, it would be good to spend at least some time with others whom you respect to find out what makes them good at what they do. Ask if you don’t know. Maybe others will seek the same in you now or in the future as well.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17
How committed are you to maintaining the relationships you have with your friends and family? Do you have at least one friend in whom you can confide your fears, failures, and other things you try to conceal from others? Do you have someone who’s advice has proven trustworthy? Do you regularly bring these same things to God and seek his advice? Most men try to ‘go it alone’ and be self-sufficient as often as possible, but it can bring about as much trouble as good at times. Confiding in others is not a sign of weakness, but a source of strength, especially when necessary. So, take some time this week to catch up with a trusted friend, even if just to let them know they are appreciated. If you don’t already have this kind of relationship with Jesus, seek Him out as well.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:12-15
Strength in Christ,