This blog is tenth in a series on relationship rescue. If you made a list of the ten most powerful New Testament principles for healthy relationships, what would they be? Pastor Tim’s list is at number nine.
#9: Thou shalt build up thy friends in the faith, and encourage them to press toward the mark of God’s high calling in Christ.
The best gift you can give a good friend is to introduce him to Jesus Christ. If your friend is already a believer, the most loving thing you can do for her is to encourage her to seek the Lord more intently and allow him to grow her in faith. That’s what Paul has in mind in 1 Thessalonians 5:11. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
We have this quirky idea about relationships. We tend to think relationships are all about getting something. Buds share my good times. Siblings give us honesty. Parents give us guidance…and money! Coworkers give us loyalty. Husbands and wives give us intimacy. Quite often, we think of ourselves as “The Beloved.” I’m special and other people are supposed to revolve around me and my needs, right?
This week, try a different paradigm. Envision yourself as God’s Special Agent. Your job is to use your relationships to nudge as many people toward faith in Christ as possible. If you friends and co-workers are believers, encourage them to talk about their faith with you. If they’re unbelievers, encourage them to talk about their hopes and dreams… and then their fears and questions. Then share your hopes and dreams with them. Presumably, you’re dreaming of going to Heaven and taking as many people with you as possible.
Scripture reminds us that just like iron sharpening iron, one man or woman sharpens another. When my friends spend time with me, I want their spiritual edges to be sharper; not soft and dull. So I look for ways to motivate them toward the cross.
Some friends have no higher ambition than sharing an evening out, or a movie, or a good laugh. Paul was all about sharing Christ, building bonds of faith, and growing the Christian community. I’m with Paul.
Lift up the cross!