Lonely and In Search of Friends

It’s nearly impossible to estimate the value of a true friend.  The relationships we have with some people in our lives are so significant, in fact, that we think of them as family.  However, those friendships are hard to come by in our day and age.  Although we are the most connected people in the history of the world, we are the most lonely.  Why is it so hard to make real friends?  
 
In the book, Social, by Matthew Lieberman, he reports on a survey of people’s social connections that was complete in 1985 and again in 2004.  People were asked to list their friends in response to the question “Over the last six months, who are the people with whom you discussed matters important to you?” In 1985, the most common number of friends listed was three; 59 percent of respondents listed three or more friends fitting this description.
But by 2004, the most common number of friends with whom you would discuss important matters was zero. And only 37 percent of respondents listed three or more friends. Back in 1985, only 10 percent indicated that they had zero confidants. In 2004, this number had skyrocketed to 25 percent.  As Lieberman says, “One out of every four of us is walking around with no one to share our lives with.”
 
The Bible says in Proverbs 17:17 that “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”  Close friends encourage us when we are down, and push us when we are worn out.  Friends motivate us, and sometimes even with words, to be more than we could be without them.  In the body of Christ we’ve been given real life people who reflect in a tangible manner the friendship of Jesus.  In Philippians chapter 2 we see two kinds of friends that will serve as an example for the way we must live our lives.
 
First, we have the young Timothy.  Do you have someone like Timothy, some individual that you’ve seen grow into an unselfish adult, someone that you have invested, time, energy and even money into?  There are few things as wonderful as being a mentor to another person.  Seeing them grow and flourish in part, due to your investment.  Do you have a Timothy in your life?  Do you need to be someone’s Timothy?
 
Second, we have Epaphroditus.  This was the individual mentioned in Chapter 2 verse 30 that risked his life for Christ.  Every time you minister in the name of Jesus you are risking something.  You risk being taken advantage of.  You risk being misunderstood.  You risk being looked at differently.  Being a good friend means taking a risk.  Putting your heart and life out there for another person to accept or reject.  We have become a people who seek comfort and control over our lives rather than taking minimal risks for Christ.  Have you felt the pull of the Holy Spirit towards certain life decisions that would turn your world upside down?  Perhaps stepping out of your comfortable circle of friends to befriend the lonely.  The risk is worth it. 
 
One such area we all need to take more risks is going beyond friendly, to welcoming.  You see, friendly people are all about those they already know.  But a welcoming person is always on the lookout for those that need a friend.  There should be no one as welcoming as a Christ follower.  So how do you do it?  Here are a few principles to being a welcoming example of Jesus others.
  • Take the initiative.
  • Give grace.
  • Practice self-control with your words
  • Be hospitable.
  • Be an encourager.
  • Practice active listening.
  • Pray for them.
  • Point them to Jesus.
 
Pastor Chris Williams
To learn more about Pastor Chris and his teaching, visit us on the web at fcfamily.org  and make sure you subscribe to receive these biweekly encouragements in your inbox.

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