“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 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, but how can one keep warm alone? 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 (ESV)
Take a moment to think about your most treasured relationships. What is it about them that made them special or stick out in your mind? I know for me, we had something in common that initially brought us together. Maybe it’s an activity, or a person, or a common ministry. But, then, what made it grow? What began to set it apart as more special and having a deeper connection? Christ-centered friendships must be cultivated. They are like gardens needing constant attention to nurture the vegetation and to keep out the weeds. In order to keep your friendships healthy and productive, you’ll need to pay attention to nurturing the quality and characteristics of your friendships.
If I think just of my current friendship, the following are the things that made it grow from a common connection to a deep friendship.
• Authenticity and Vulnerability: Becoming open and real with each other, no hiding, no pretending, and no trying to be what we are not. The willingness to slowly risk letting the other person into our private world, allowing our friend to see our weaknesses.
• Prayer filled: The ability to pray together, share requests and pray for one another
• Encouraging: The simple ways that my friend encourages me and pushes me gently to greater heights as well as the encouragement to endure and trust.
• Sacrificial: Giving of our time and putting aside ourselves when our friend needs us. Stopping our agenda to help them walk through a tough situation or time in their life (Proverbs 17:17).
• Grace-filled: Godly friendships live by grace. Grace recognizes that we are sinners who can’t save ourselves. We need to walk in grace with our friends and ourselves because are all sinners. A grace-filled relationship doesn’t judge or change because of our sinfulness, but instead they are forgiving, embracing and sustaining.
• Edifying: A good friend builds up the other in Christ (1 Corinthians 14:26). Friends who suck the life out of us are not Christ-centered. A Christ-centered friend drives you to God and not to herself or her agenda.
• Confronts in Love (Ephesians 4:15): Friends focused on Christ seek to serve the interest of others rather than their own interest (Philippians 2:4). It is frustrating to see a friend walking in sin, but it is unloving not to speak the truth to her. This truth, however, must be spoken with much grace and kindness in true humility. If a friend is not willing to confront in love, it’s not a friend you need.
Friendships that are Christ-centered demonstrate grace, mercy, compassion, love and forgiveness. Let these truths change your perspective on how you are being a friend. Let Jesus Christ transform your friendships. You might want to look up the one-another’s in Scripture (there about 59), practice them and you will have an amazing Christ-centered and blessed relationship. The one-another’s are God’s way of helping us cultivate relationships He meant for us to have. It is with that type of relationship that I can feel fully known, loved, secure and supported. He set up such an incredible relationship to help us survive life on this earth.
What type of friendships are you cultivating? Do you drive your friends to God or to yourself?
Lynne Jahns is a Christian counselor and holds the honor of being the first Director of Barbara’s Place at America’s Keswick, a residential addiction recovery ministry for women. Lynne is married to Bill Jahns, who also serves on staff at America’s Keswick as the Director of Housekeeping. When not working and studying, Lynne loves to be outdoors and to travel. Family is very important to both Lynne and Bill and a lot of free time is spent with relatives and close family friends. Lynne holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Behavioral Sciences from Cedarville University in Ohio, a Master of Arts degree from The College of New Jersey in Community Counseling, and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree from Louisiana Baptist University.
Would you consider being a part of our STAND IN THE GAP campaign for 2015? Our goal is 1,000 people that will partner with us for January, February, and March, which are some of our toughest financial months. Each STAND IN THE GAP partner will make one $25 gift each month for 3 months in addition to their normal giving. This will bring in $75,000 towards our first quarter expenses. This is perfect for partners that already give or for people that would like to give but cannot make a long term commitment. Sign up today at http://www.americaskeswick.org/support/help-now/stand-in-the-gap
Thank you in advance for your partnership. Come STAND IN THE GAP WITH US.