Friendship

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Friendships…I feel like I am no expert on them, but certainly have come to see the value in them since we have moved.  I needed a friend and familiar surroundings boost, so I drove to Rochester and met some friends for coffee/tea, lunch, and supper.  How good it was to catch up on their lives and see their faces and feel their warm embraces.  I am looking forward to going back again so I can catch up with so many others I wanted to see.

As I am finding it takes time to make new friends.  Everyone has plans and lives and other friendships and families and…

I have a group of college friends who are trying to schedule a week-end together and it seems challenging to schedule with family vacations and other commitments.  I do so value these friends and would love to get together and see how God has worked in our lives over the last 20+ years.  I trust God will work this one out for me as He sees fit.

Do we value friendships or just acquaintances?  Do we value those friends who dig into our lives and try to help us be better people? “As iron sharpens iron so a friend sharpens the countenance of his friends.” (Proverbs 27:17).  Do I diligently work at challenging others to be the best they can be? Am I careful who I spend my time with so that my friendships are with people who challenge me to be the best God has for me?

True friendships take time and energy.  We must be careful not to spread ourselves too thin.  Our jobs take time.  Our families take time.  Our spouses take time.  We need to spend time with God.  Do we prioritize correctly or are we off balance?  There will be times that we spend too much time on one, but as long as we are aware of this and don’t let living off balance be our norm, it is acceptable.  Do you know people who say, “Once I get ‘this’ done, everything will be better.”  What happens?  That one think turns into something else. I have found in my life there is always “one more thing.”  Our friends could be the kind who take lots of time and energy and keep us off balance all the time.  This is not a healthy friendship and should be handled with care and attention to how much time is spent.

Solomon reminds us how valuable friendship is.  “Two are better than one…for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.  Again, if two lie together, they keep warm…and though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him, a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).  A true friend is so valuable and helpful.  They provide encouragement when we are down.  They share in our joys.  They comfort us in our sorrows.  In this day of technology, we must remember that it should be a help to our friendships.  Too often we see people with others, but on their phones with someone else.  Be all present.  When we are distracted, we cannot see the hurt someone has or the joy they have.  It is hard to notice the little things when we are paying more attention to the screen if front of us than the real person in our presence.

Friendship has value.  People need each other.  The older I get the more I value friendships and am willing to drive across the state of Michigan in order to catch up with friends.  Don’t get so busy.  Be intentional in how you spend your time.  “Two are better than one…”

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Contradictions

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Contradiction…we all know and understand the meaning behind this word.  Two things that oppose each other.  In English class we call them antonyms.  The two words that mean the opposite of each other.  The usual purpose behind a debate is caused by two or more people that have different usually opposing ideas that they not only feel very strongly about but also think is the only correct way to think.  We see this in our government on a pretty consistent basis these days.  Contradictions are not usually our favorite thing to discuss at a party, and yet the Bible has some contradictions that when looked at on the surface make no sense but when put into practice make perfect sense.

 

Here are a few:

  1. Matthew 10:39 “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

How can we find our life if we lose it?  Usually when I lose something, like a sock in the wash, it is lost.  We do not try to lose things on purpose so that we can then find them.  What was Jesus’ original intent when He spoke these words?  If we deny Christ in hopes of saving our lives, we lose the hope of eternal life.  When we surrender our lives to Christ, we gain the hope of eternal life.  Living a life surrendered to the will of God the Father will find the true purpose and the true meaning of life.  True purpose in life is not found in doing my will, but rather surrendering my will to the Father and doing His will.  Yes, a contradiction.

  1. Proverbs 11:24 “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give and only suffers want.”

This one is certainly an enigma.  When we give we grow richer and when we withhold we are in want.  So many in our culture strive to have the best house, the best car, the best clothes…Three generations from now or even at our funerals will our house and our car be the things that are remembered?  Rather, when we attend funerals no one usually talks about another’s possessions but their character.  When we are generous with our love, compassion, gentleness, kindness, encouragement, friendship, hospitality, joy, peace…we grow richer.  When we are stingy with our kindness being so focused on meeting our own needs, we suffer.  It seems when I notice the needs of another and freely give of my time and talents, my heart grows richer.  When I fail to notice the needs of others and am so focused on my own needs, I feel even needier.  Loving those that do not deserve it or encouraging those that may not reciprocate fills my heart with more joy than keeping that love for myself.  Notice the pain in someone’s eyes and love them.  Notice the loneliness in someone’s life and be their friend.  We should be giving so freely that when it seems the cup is empty, God has refilled it with more than we had to start with.

  1. Proverbs 11:25 “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched and one who waters will himself be watered.”
  2. Acts 20:35 “…It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

What is the conclusion of the whole matter?  Live a life of contradiction.  Give when it seems there is nothing left to give, and God will reward you.  “Moreover, it is required of stewards that a man be found faithful.” (I Corinthians 4:2).  Will we be found as a faithful giver or a faithful withholder?  God has so richly given to us, should we not follow His example and be faithful givers.  Generosity (giving freely) is not always money.  We all have an endless supply of love, compassion, gentleness, kindness, encouragement, friendship, hospitality, joy, peace…why not give it all away.  Live a life of contradiction.  Jesus did!