Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘how can I help my friends’

Nobody’s Gettin’ Enough

This blog is the ninth in a series on relationship rescue.  We’re looking for the most powerful New Testament principles for healthy relationships. Pastor Tim’s Top Ten:

According to John Maxwell, “Man does not live by bread alone.  Sometimes he needs a little buttering up.”  We’re not talking about flattery here.  We’re talking about encouragement.  Everybody needs it- including your friends and loved ones.

#8: Thou shalt catch others in the act of doing something good. (And tell them!)

Encouragement is so rare that almost no one gets enough.  Not long ago, a rugged male friend of mine lost a lot of weight.  It not only changed his appearance, but it changed the way he felt and acted.  He was even more energetic, more positive.  The first time I mentioned how great he looked, his face broke into a big smile.  “I’ve lost 20 pounds,” he commented.  “You’re the first person who’s noticed!”

My friend has always been healthy, successful and athletic.  I’m guessing nobody bothered to comment because they figured he’s so together that he doesn’t need a good word.  In fact, everybody needs encouragement and we need it a lot.  It’s so important that God’s Word reminds us to be intentional.

Philippians 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

In our self-centered, therapeutic culture, many of us have assumed that the mark of true friendship is someone’s willingness to listen to all my sorrows, anxieties and frustrations.  Maybe, but most people aren’t really looking for a friend because they enjoy depressing conversations.  Most people want friends because the people we love can add value to our lives.  They hang with us.  They laugh with us.  They understand us.  And if I’m one of those really lucky individuals, they notice when I do things right, and let me know.

Want to build more positive friendships?  Practice this simple trick for two weeks and you’ll be amazed at the results.  Be intentional about listening.  Hone in on some things your friends are doing right.  Or take note of some strengths and personal talents.  Then be deliberate in telling the people you love some of the reasons why you love them.  Encourage them to keep on doing the things they do so well.  You’ll become a more attractive person, and you’ll be handing out a prescription everybody needs.

Lift up the Cross!

The Plastic Version

Gavin DeGraw’s new CD has a great song called “Candy” built around a refrain that’s almost biblical.  “We have our lives to bear/ Our bags to burden/ But we just buy and we wear/ The plastic version of/ Love, hope, understanding./But we can’t survive on candy.”  The more we center our relationships around social media and cell phone text messages, the more plastic our version of 21st Century love becomes.

It strikes me that our lonely, hook-up society is primed and ready for the kind of message the Church teaches best.  Our faith is built around the concept of unconditional love.  Our Bible is full of principles about loving other people above self, dealing tirelessly with failed human beings, cultivating genuine love in a wilderness of meaningless sex.  Our Lord enjoyed full, satisfying relationships without the benefit of marriage, sexual immorality, or kinky perversion.  And he has called us to enjoy the same kinds of relationships with other human beings.

But we have this nagging problem- our marriages and friendships don’t seem so much better than those our unbelieving friends are enduring.  In fact, sometimes our version of friendship is even more plastic and worthless than theirs because we think it’s spiritual to pretend we love people when, in fact, we can hardly countenance them.  We can sit in the same room and sing hymns, but don’t ask us to sit at the same table and share a friendly conversation.  We are Christians in principle, but in practice we are atheists.

During these Christmas holidays, I’m going to devote myself to the priniciples of Relationship Rescue!  If there were Ten Commandments that could guide us in satisfying human relationships like marriage and friendship, what would they be?  Over the last several months, many of my Christian friends have helped to prepare me for this moment.  As I have watched people of faith misunderstand each other, disrespect each other, discount the uniqueness of other human beings, and attribute evil motives to people they don’t know well, I have heard the Spirit calling out again and again.  There are some basic, core principles from God’s Word that we shatter on the rocks of cynicism week after week, month after month.

So think about this question for a few weeks: if you were asked to identify the 10 biblical principles which are most applicable to healthy relationships, what would they be?  I dare you to make a list.   I’ll begin to share mine next week and we can compare notes.  So put on your thinking cap.  Let’s find the wisdom of God which our lonely world is dying to hear.

Lift up the Cross!

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