You would think by now, since I’m 40 years old, that I’d have figured out this thing called “Friendship.” Perhaps I have so many hang-ups and insecurities when it comes to others because I still have that “middle school girl friendship mindset” at times. You may recognize it as, “I’ll be your friend if you don’t hang out with that other person,” or “I won’t be your friend because you talked to her.” Girl friendships while growing up are unpredictable and difficult. Nerve wracking. And I’ve learned to NEVER put girls together in groups of 3’s. (That can be disastrous in the classroom!) Girls really can be mean to each other.
I love how God teaches His children. And this weekend He’s been teaching me about my friends. It began with this:
“Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” ~ Hebrews 10:24-25
It’s that word for “consider how” that got my mind thinking. It means to “fix your attention on someone else.” It’s not a selfish thing. It’s placing others before your own desires. It’s an intentionality. It’s love without strings.
You can probably count the people who treat you this way on one hand. Blessed is the man, or woman, who has more than five!
As Christians we are to love and encourage others, all people. However, the Bible does give us some advice that we must heed when it comes to those we allow in our close circle of friends.
“Spiritual maturity means preferring time with the Lord over negative influences that stunt our growth or cause us to stumble. As we walk in step with Him and seek to align our hearts with His, the result is that we seek fellowship with believers who also reflect godly qualities and strive to know Him more. The weightiness of this decision is seen in Proverbs 12:26, which says, ‘The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.'”
This doesn’t mean isolate ourselves from unbelievers, or even believers who are young in the faith. No, we are to teach, encourage, and cheer them on to spiritual maturity. But we do need to be wise when it comes to who we ask advice of, or listen to, about meaty spiritual issues and struggles. I want to be sure that the person I speak with is willing to tell me the truth in love because he or she really has MY best interests at heart. And if someone were to come to me seeking a deeper friendship in this manner, I would hope that I would respond in kind.
Life is too short to be stuck in the “middle school mentality” of friendship. We really need to spur each other on to spiritual maturity. I don’t want to be stuck in mediocrity. God is continuing to reveal to me those who are willing to consider how to stimulate me to love and good deeds. And they aren’t necessarily the people who I thought they’d be.
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” ~ Proverbs 13:20
Second quote from: A Jane Austen Devotional by Steffany Woolsey, pg.183