Brother and Friend

Children, Brothers, Boys, Brother, Family, Boy

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time.
One without sense enters an agreement and puts up security for his friend.
One with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.
-Proverbs 17:17, 17:18, and 18:24

Notes from Derek Kidner (IVP, 1964):

  • In trouble you see what family ties are for, and you also see who are your friends.
  • But a friend may be unfairly imposed upon.
  • The second saying does not contradict the first, but deprecates, not help for a friend in need, but a blind guarantee which may lead the recipient to rashness, and both to ruin.  
  • (18:24) The RV gives the most probable sense of the Hebrew text: “He that maketh many friends (doeth it) to his own destruction.”  But the Heb. is very cryptic (and it could be read as:) ‘There are friends to (one’s) undoing.’  King Zedekiah was warned of this (Jer. 38:22), but in vain.

More notes:

  • Sometimes adversity is the only thing that brings brothers together (WG Plaut).
  • Brothers show loyalty during times of calamity and a true friend is the same as a brotherly relation—in times of greatest need the loyal love is displayed (NET notes).
  • It is better to have one or two good friends than many false friends. Some friends can be more faithful than our closest blood relatives. Such a friend is a true treasure (Constable’s notes).
  • The significance of friends is found in their quality, not quantity (Waltke).

Our Barnabas Disciple Maker

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus by birth, the one the apostles called Barnabas (which is translated Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

-Acts 4:36-37
Yesterday, we went to a retirement party, for Kenny.  He has been a Barnabas, a ‘Son of Encouragement’, just like that man, in the book of Acts.  The occasion was his retirement from 30 years at his job, but what we really celebrated was his 45 years or so of ministry, as a disciple who made disciples.
I was blessed to be one of the people whom he reached out to, to show the love of Jesus to, over 40 years ago.  That ‘Thank You’ song by Ray Boltz, came to my mind; as I listened to the four men, including my brother, who got up and paid tribute to Kenny:


Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.


Kenny was and is an encourager.  One of the guys who spoke yesterday, said that he has been like Barnabas.  They gave this man, in Acts, that nickname, that means ‘Son of Encouragement’; and that is also what our Kenny has been.  Barnabas was a constant positive influence on those around him.
Kenny made disciples.  Here are some of the ways his life showed how it is done.
Making disciples involves sharing life together.  We have our jobs and we need to get our rest.  But the remainder of our time is time we can spend together, with others.
Discipleship happens in the context of sharing life together.  It is usually not a class you go to or a learned degree that you earn.
How to live in Christ is learned by living life around others who have Christ in them.  We do need to encounter God alone and continue to have a one to one relationship with God.  But we learn how to live through life together with other Christians.
Sharing life means eating meals together.  Disciple makers are often party makers.  Discipleship is about connecting people to Christ’s life and to each other for Christ’s life.
Sharing life also means playing together.  People need play time.  There is a vast spectrum of play that God has for us.
When we share life, we learn about Jesus and about how to live in him.  
A disciple maker who is encouraging is simply available.  Many of us are too busy and tired to be available.  
Activities are for the purpose of connecting with people and connecting others to each other and to the Lord.  We can’t lose sight of this.
Disciplemakers sponsor people, just like in the 12-step programs.  A sponsor is simply someone who encourages another person and makes themselves available to them.  You sit with them and you converse with them.  You help them walk.
A disciple who makes disciples is willing to take risks of faith.  Along with making themselves available: having a life for the sake of others, they are willing to take a Christian risk.  They are willing to try something, not knowing if it will work, or if they might be rejected.
There is a positive outlook on life that a disciple who is a disciple maker has.  This is because they have roots in God and God’s love for them ‘no matter what’.  In other words, the answer to the question, “what if you fail?”, for them is, “I know God loves me, no matter what”.
Another way to put it, is that a disciple who is a disciple maker is not hung up on outcomes.  They know that stuff does not always work and things and people fail.  That is ok with them, because they get it that God is good no matter what and that God can turn anything around and bring good out of things.
Disciples who are disciple makers know that nothing happens unless we do something.  We might fail, but we can be assured that nothing good will happen if we do nothing.  They are doers, active: action takers.
Disciples are givers.  The first thing that Barnabas (Joe from Cypress) did was make a big gift to the church.  When he became a Christian, right out of the gate, he began to give in a big way.
Whether we give big or give small, the point, idea, practice or lifestyle is to give.  Just give!  Be generous!  
Disciples live their lives under the motto of ‘give and it shall be given’.  God multiplies what we give, and disciples get this and live in that paradigm.
Disciples take life as it comes.  They get it that God is in charge and there are many moving pieces.  Disciples do not do ‘my way or the highway’.  And they can embrace ‘plan b’, when ‘plan a’ does not work.  They are flexible!
Disciples are servants.  They get it that we are both sons or daughters and slaves.  We are God’s kids, but we are here to serve God, even as slaves.
Disciples live their lives at the service of God and others.
A disciple learns to be themselves.  Being a giver, a lover, and a servant are marks of a disciple.  But they also embrace who they uniquely are.
If you are a disciple, you learn to love yourself and be comfortable in your own skin, with who God make you to be.  Barnabas was a great friend to Paul and encouraged this man who would become perhaps the most famous Christian.  But these two great guys also had a blowout, a conflict where they parted ways.
They were not perfect.  And they had unique, God given, personalities and passionate ideas, while both being in-Christ; yet, they had their conflict and a separation.
And they did what Jesus taught us.  They reconciled.  But it was after a considerable period of time.
Don’t think you have irrevocably failed if you fail in a friendship or relationship.  It happened to Paul and Barnabas.
Disciples who make disciples celebrate with us and weep with us.  When someone calls them, who has just experienced a loss, they say, “I’m on my way”.  
The same person who loves to celebrate you and everything you do will also be by your side when anything negative happens to you.
A Barnabas type person is a friend to everybody, but they make you feel like you are their special friend.  I have had several friends like this.  As life unfolded and time went by, I saw that they had blessed others, many, many others with the same, special friendship they gave me.
We think addition, but God does multiplication.  We think of that one and this one and of joining together with one person.  But God takes these ‘adds’ and multiplies them into a woven tapestry, that is a work of art or an architectural wonder.
Disciples who make disciples are inviters and includers.  They live ‘the more the merrier’, have ‘an open door policy’, and ‘open invitations’.  They know about hospitality and gift giving.  And they treat the supposedly lowest person with love, dignity, and respect.
And encouragers also know about ‘in season and out of season’.  They do their thing that God has gifted them to do, throughout the seasons.  Not just when the sun is shining or the wind is right.
Barnabas people know they are on their way somewhere:  To Christ.  The life that Christ begins in them is lived in him, for him and to him.
The encourager who is a disciple who makes disciples, does not leave much behind in terms of money and real property assets.  But they leave a legacy of changed lives for Christ and they also get to take these with them into eternity.
This post has described a man that I was blessed and honored to be friends with, starting in my young Christian life.  Thank you Kenny and thank you Jesus for Kenny.

You’re My Best friend

This is my love, and this is my friend.

-Song 5:16
Who is your best friend?  I have had many best friends in my life, beginning with my brother.  I have  thoroughly enjoyed my friends.
Today my best friend is my wife.

Friendship

Friendship in the Bible is defined as an affection and love between two people.  The affection begins with association:  he/she is a associate.  This then progresses into loyalty: a bond forms wherein that person becomes a part of your life, a special person to you that you care about, do things for & with, and spend time with.  Finally, this can progress to having an affectionate bond between us.
We can be friendly to everyone and there are people who are so friendly, that we say that they are “everyone’s friend”.  But friendship comes about through mutuality: both people have to desire friendship with the other, for a bond of friendship to come about.  It is like dating: one invites and the other responds or chooses not to and a friendship begins or continues, or it does not.
We have times when there is not mutuality and a friendship does not grow.  Also, it is notable that the majority of friendships fade or end.  The association that brought you together might change or end; and you realize that the loyal bond was based on that original association.  When the association ends or changes, the loyalty weakens, and the affection fades; and “a best friend” shifts to being just “a friend” and might go out of focus completely, transitioning to “a former close friend” that we eventually become estranged from.

Estrangement

A stranger is someone you don’t know and estrangement is when you transition from close to distant or friend to stranger.  Many of us can recall people we used to speak with every day or very often, to who we have not spoken or seen for a year or a decade or decades.  We usually do not have a “going away party” and have a last goodbye with a best friend, but instead a shift happens and the friendship changes and fades.

Friendshifts

Friendships shift and are often lost when associations change.  Another dimension that affects association is that we outgrow certain friendships.  If the friendship was centered around something you have outgrown, but your friend still lives there, it might be hard to relate.
We are all designed to grow and we mostly grow at different rates and in different ways.  A friendship’s association may be very good in that we are both growing and encouraging one another, or one of us may be ahead of the other and in a mentoring role that is enjoyed by both of us.  But eventually there is a state where it is not ‘working’.  
If the friendship was heavily based on the association and possibly the loyalty that was garnered out of the mutual enjoyment and the association shifts, then the the friendship must shift or die.  The shift is into just enjoying one another’s company.  This is hard when the roots and the history of that friendship were always that previous association.
An example might be becoming friends in a transitional, and perhaps crisis laden time of your life.  When the crisis is past, can we still be friends?  The friendship will have to shift into the unconditional love of just enjoying another’s company and sharing life together.

General, Special, and Best Friends

We can generally address people as friends, because we want to be friendly and associated with them.  When I give a speech, I might say, “friends, family, and loved ones”, and I am calling out associations that people in my audience have with one another.  But when I speak, and say to an audience, of whom are many strangers to me, “friend…”, I am speaking to them as an acquaintance/associate.
We can call many people friends, because there is an association there.  We might introduce someone as our “new friend”, meaning that we just met because of some association.  But, these are not close friends or best friends; although they have that possibility of becoming one.

Bad Friends

Jesus called Judas, “friend”.  When we hear that scene, we might gasp, because Judas is betraying him.  Have you ever been betrayed, by a friend?
Betrayal usually only happens among friends, because the association is the doorway, and the more loyalty and affection that previously existed, the deeper and more painful that betrayal is.  Betrayal is real and it hurts.
Other pitfalls in friendship are when ‘friends’ are really ‘fake friends’, people pretending to be your friend, perhaps for some ulterior motive, but they are really not your friend.  Someone who really is your true friend, might intervene and strongly encourage you, saying, “____ is not your friend!”
Friendships are tarnished when we loan a friend money and they do not or can not pay it back.  Friendships are ruined when we gossip about a friend.  Friendships are weakened when we do not show loyalty and affection for a friend when they are wounded in life.  We call people “fair weather friends”, who are only around when things are fun and easy.

Jesus’ Definition of Best Friend

Jesus said that the highest form of friendship is when we lay our lives down for our friends (John 15).  He said that we demonstrate that we are his friends when we are obedient to his commands.  He invites us all into a friendship, where we serve him and know him.

Best Friends in Marriage

Now, what about friendship in marriage?  Is your spouse supposed to be your best friend, or does marriage surpass and glide above friendship?  Can you have that exclusive romantic relationship with your spouse and have them be your best friend, and does that mean that we can be missing something if we don’t have a best friendship with our wife or husband?

In the Bible, we have this verse, Song of Solomon 5:16, that is a statement that makes the suggestion that there is the possibility of being in a relationship filled with adoration, romantic love, unabashed sexual feelings that desire fulfillment, and authentic friendship.

His mouth is sweetness. He is absolutely desirable. This is my love, and this is my friend, young women of Jerusalem.

Do we dismiss this as part of the starry-eyed infatuation that this woman is experiencing, or embrace it as a bold fact, that breaks new ground for lovers, and is divinely inspired scripture revealing to us the depths of a relationship between a woman and a man who have become a couple?

Do we exclusively interpret this verse and the whole of this book as an allegory of God’s or Christ’s love for his people?  No.

I believe that it is both.  The relationship between a man and a woman is actually a reflection of God’s love for his people.

This Hebrew word here for friend,  “rea“, רֵ֫עַ, (“ray’-ah”), falls into the Biblical definition of association, companionship, neighbor, fellowship, another, and friend.  And in the Bible, the word neighbor is much richer than we often use it and has to do with community and relationship; rather than houses, condos, apartments, property lines, walls, fences, and stick figures of people we really don’t know and might wave at, as we drive by, with our car’s windows up.

The Context Usually Defines The Depth of a Friendship

Friendship in the Bible, is pretty much defined by the larger context.  I can say that Peter, James, and John were Jesus’ best friends; because of the extra time and experiences they had with him.

John was Jesus’ very best friend, because of how John identifies himself as, “the disciple whom Jesus loved”.  John displayed special affection for Jesus, and was a bit more loyal than the others, when Jesus suffered on the cross.  And Jesus asked John to take care of his mom, when he was dying.

In the context of The Song of Solomon, with all the adoration, respect, romance, and sexuality expressed through the larger story; this lady exclaims, “And he is my friend!”  To me, this implies that two people can have a good marriage, but lack the best friendship.  And I think it was that way then and is that way now.  Friendship is the great “And” in a marriage.

Some quotes and notes on this revelation from three theologians:

  • Friendship goes far deeper goes than mere sexual compatibility and excitement.  Happy is the husband or wife whose spouse is also a friend. -G. LLoyd Carr
  • The Song of Solomon is unabashedly erotic. Yet it is never satisfied to be content with the physical alone. A normal person finds the erotic ultimately meaningful only if there is trust and commitment, delight in the other’s person as well as in their body. The writer of the Song understands this. Our hero is her lover, but he is more: he is her friend. -D. F. Kinlaw
  • With this ringing declaration the woman expresses not only her love and commitment but the depth of their relationship.  Her beloved is not any man whom she finds desirable – he is her friend.  This speaks of an intimacy and a sharing, an engagement that goes beyond and yet is expressed by physical closeness.  Certainly, there is intimate friendship manifested as erotic passion at work, but the passion arises out of deep love, understanding and commitment to the other.  The love is entirely mutual, the love of two equals:                                                                                                                                        “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine …” (6:3)                                                                                                                                                                                         We have here no idea of female subservience to the male, but two equal human beings who have found true love.  -Peter Vardy


My love and my friend

I have had many dear best friends, starting with my very special brother.  And it is my goal and passion to be a friend of God and like John, Jesus’ best friend.  But it is also my great desire and joy, to be best friends with my wife.  I want to adore her, romance her, respect her, support her, champion her, mentor her, protect her, affirm her, facilitate her, sacrificially love her, and be her best friend.

———————————————————————————-
My Best Friend, by John Deacon (Queen)

Ooh you make me live

Whatever this world can give to me
It’s you you’re all I see
Ooh you make me live now honey
Ooh you make me live
Ooh you’re the best friend that I ever had
I’ve been with you such a long time
You’re my sunshine and I want you to know
That my feelings are true
I really love you
Oh you’re my best friend

Ooh you make me live

Ooh I’ve been wandering round
But I still come back to you
In rain or shine
You’ve stood by me girl
I’m happy at home
You’re my best friend

Ooh you make me live
Whenever this world is cruel to me
I got you to help me forgive
Ooh you make me live now honey
Ooh you make me live

You’re the first one
When things turn out bad
You know I’ll never be lonely
You’re my only one
And I love the things
I really love the things that you do
Ooh you’re my best friend

Ooh you make me live

I’m happy at home
You’re my best friend
Oh you’re my best friend
Ooh you make me live
You’re my best friend


_______________________________

Bibliography:  

New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 1:254-60
C.S. Lewis: The Four Loves
Jacalyn Eyre, Faithfulness: The Foundation of True Friendship
G. Lloyd Carr, Song of Solomon
D. F. Kinlaw, Song of Solomon
P. Vardy, The Puzzle of Sex

Anger part 3: The Hidden Anger

Better an open reprimand than concealed love.

-Proverbs 27:5

Some angry people have hidden anger: repressed or suppressed anger.  This list can be found on many websites and no one seems to know who first complied it.  A few of the behaviors listed are different, on different versions of this list.

The list is not exhaustive nor exact.  In fact, I eliminated “has ulcers” as being one item.   Let’s just say that, “some people with hidden anger do this or have this.”  I believe this list is helpful in becoming aware of your possible problem with hidden anger.

It might be helpful to repeat that anger in and of itself is not bad.  We have anger when we have loss or hurt.  It’s like saying “ouch!” when we stub our toe.

Anger is bad, destructive, or sinful when we are angry much of the time.  On the one end of the spectrum, raging is bad: out of control yelling and screaming, possibly with harsh judgments or controlling and threats, possibly with name calling or cussing and cursing, including character assassination.  This is bad, unhealthy, sinful, and destructive: not ok.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who have buried, hidden, repressed, or suppressed anger that is unresolved.  They have a style of stuffing rather process and release.  Perhaps they were hurt, abandoned, abused at times in the past, by a shameless person who did not admit fault, and who often was a primary relationship to them that they needed for survival and could not get angry back at.

This list might help you to see that you have an anger problem.  If you “see it”, and can say “that’s me”, then you might say “now what?”, or ,”what can I do to not be this way?”; what I would advise is to get into recovery.  Find out what getting into recovery means for you.

Recovery is not something other than being a Christian.  To be a Christian is to be in recovery.  Paradoxically, Churches and Christianity are filled with people who are not in recovery.  What I am saying is that a person can have many of these items below operating in their life and be a Christian.

Recovery is intentional as is someone seeking healing, health, and to grow or become wiser.  Healing and recovery are also spontaneous, when we seek and live in Christ.  We will always be broken, weak people; even when we are in Christ.  But brokenness is different than carnal, fleshly, worldly, obsessional sinfulness that is rooted in unbroken willful sin.

Many Christians are not disciples, or rather, our idea of what a disciple is has gotten away from what the disciples were in the NT.  A disciple is not only a learner, but someone who leaves everything to become a learner.  Jesus said that each one of us, that want to follow him, is to “take up his cross”.

That means death.  What if we get it that being a Christian is about his cross and my cross?  His cross is an amazing thing – he died for our sins on the cross.  But what happens if I believe that, but I do not obey his command to take up my own cross?

Maybe I do not even know what that means.  Or maybe I do not want to know and I do not want that part of what it means to be a Christian.  What is a person who self-identifies as a Christian, but they do not obey what Jesus said and is written in the NT?

I will leave it to God to judge, but I do believe that this person is going to have more problems than they ought to have.  This person is going to have less spiritual health in their life.  This person is not going to have the vital, intimate relationship with God, that they could otherwise have.

Hidden Anger Checklist

1. Procrastination in the completion of imposed tasks
2. Perpetual or habitual lateness.
3. A liking for sadistic or ironic humor.
4. Sarcasm, cynicism or flippancy in conversation.
5. Over-politeness, constant cheerfulness, an attitude of “grin and bear it”.
6. Frequent sighing.
7. Smiling while hurting (bringing in the clown to protect us) .
8. Frequent disturbing or frightening dreams.
9. Over controlled monotone speech.
10. Difficulty getting to sleep or sleep throughout the night.
11. Boredom, apathy, and loss of interest.
12. Slowing down of movements.
13. Getting tired more easily than usual (anger saps energy).
14. Excessive irritability over trivial things.
15. Getting drowsy at inappropriate times.
16. Sleeping more, possibly 12+ hours a day.
17. Waking up tired instead of rested and refreshed.
18. Clenched jaws/grinding of teeth especially while sleeping.
19. Facial tics, spasmodic or tapping foot movements, swinging leg when seated, and tightly clenched fists (white knuckling).
20. Very stiff or sore neck.
21. Chronic depression, extended periods of feeling down for no apparent reason, and sitting around with a long face.
22. Being overly critical of everything and everyone.
23. Playing music loudly.
24. Unable to get people out of your head.
25. Rehearsing arguments in your mind.
26. Driving fast in an aggressive manner.
27. Putting more effort than required into physical tasks.
28. Being irritating towards others.

“This is not about rage . Rage is anger out of control and taking over your whole being.
This is about the feelings we call “irritation”, “annoyance”, “getting mad”, etc.
All these negative feelings share one thing in common: they are considered undesirable at best and sinful or destructive at worst.”

Do you often say, “it annoys me”, or “it makes me so mad”, or “it is so irritating”?  Do you constantly have a need to “vent” or maliciously gossip about others?

It is actually healthy and loving to tell a friend or a loved-one, “I am really angry at (or with) you”.  This was very different, when I first experienced this from a friend or mentor.  But I learned to hear

the love and caring in the statement.

It would probably be helpful to express the anger and then immediately express the hurt or loss suffered behind the anger.  When your angry friend or loved-one expresses anger, you can learn to “suss-out” what the hurt or loss is that is behind the anger.  This works best when there is a foundation of love already there, that the relationship is built upon.

I mentioned recovery, and discipleship.  I would also like to add that learning how to walk, including dealing with anger, is worked out or learned in relationship.  We have to have the vertical relationship with God, but to grow, we must have horizontal relationships with other people.

Who is your sponsor and who are you sponsoring?  Who is your mentor and who are you mentoring?  Who is fathering or mothering you (in a the good sense!) and who are you fathering or mothering?  Who is your safe friend and who are you being a safe friend to, that is even closer than a sibling?

Growth is worked out and happens in duos and trios, and sometimes in quartets, quintets, sextets, septets, octets, and nonets.

Renewing a Friendship

Now the LORD had said to Aaron, “Go and meet Moses in the wilderness.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him.

-Exodus 4:27 (HCSB)
Photo: Pixabay

Have you ever renewed a friendship?  Life’s circumstances took you apart.  But now, you meet again.  Here are a few tips.

1. When they knock, answer.

When your door is knocked on, answer it.  Don’t give up on people.
 
2. Take out the garbage before having dinner.
If you got hurt in the past relationship, make sure you take out the garbage before you reconnect.  Forgive them, before God.  When you see them again, you get the chance to start over.

3. You can’t win them all.

Keep your expectations in check or neutral.  If your expectations are sky high, you will likely be disappointed.  You will evaluate the encounter as a “glass half empty”, when it is really a “glass half full”.

Come down to earth and embrace the reality that, “you can’t win them all”.  Sometimes, you will re-connect with someone and be disappointed.  Sometimes you will attempt a re-connection and the other person will not answer.  Friendships, even with siblings, require mutuality.  It is a “we” thing.  There is a dance, where we have to gauge whether the other person wants to dance and is dancing. 
 
4. Ask for permission to speak freely, if you need to confront.

Some people exclaim, “I need to say, _____”, or, “I have to confront you on, _____”.  Another way to share (a share-frontation), that I just learned from hearing John Townsend, is to ask, as they do in the military, “(May I have) permission to speak freely?”  If they say, “yes”, then you tell them, gently, how what they said or did hurt you.

5. Say, “That’s not my problem.”

If you are a caring person who likes to help, serve, deliver, heal, or fix people; you may need one last piece.  That is to be able to say, “That’s not my problem”.  This is especially apt when the other person triangles in a third party into your conversation (gossip).

You may have to learn to say, “That’s not my problem”, in your head, a lot.    But, when people are in front of you, asking for your help, that is a whole different thing.

“That’s not my problem”, is short for, “That’s not my problem to fix or solve”. 

“That’s not my problem”, is mainly for when you hear “other people’s stories”. 

When your friend or sibling tells you their problem, you need to keep in mind that they are not necessarily asking for help or want help.  Let them just tell you.  Let it be their problem and let them ask you for help or advice.

There is a dance involved in a relationship where we inevitably tell the other person our troubles.  It is respectful and loving to hold back and not give advice or try to fix them.  We have to find a way to do step 4, above, and ask permission before dispensing advice.

Conclusion

You might take out the garbage so well, that you forget past slights or offenses and truly start over with this person.  You might have so much grace and godly love in you now, that you no longer need them to give you anything and you do not have a need to fix them.

If you can not be in a relationship with someone who takes and doesn’t give much, or who is not whatever you need them to be, then that is your issue to work out.  You might need to lower your expectation of certain people and look around and watch for people who are a better fit for you.

Friend

Friends love all the time, and kinsfolk are born for times of trouble.

There are persons for companionship, but then there are friends who are more loyal than family. 

Trustworthy are the bruises of a friend; excessive are the kisses of an enemy.

Someone will say to him, “What are these wounds between your hands?”
And he will say, “These happened when I was hit in my friends’ home.”

But Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came and grabbed Jesus and arrested him.

-Proverbs 17:17 & 18:24, Zech. 13:6. Matt. 26:47-50

I’ve had the idea that friendships are important to God and I believe God notices lonely people and tries to find friends for them.  If you are a child of God, it is likely that God may place you next to someone who needs a friend.

A friend can be someone just a bit beyond an acquaintance.  They might be someone you connect with, have something in common with, or enjoy laughing with.  This friend might not be there for you on your rainy day, which I guess is why we call people in this category, “fair weather friends”.

At the other end of the range on friendships, there are friends that are closer to you than your own family.  Some people might say, “what closeness from family?”  Those people, for many reasons, might never have had genuine closeness or loyalty from family.

Have you ever been beat up, with words; and have you ever been confronted or cared about enough to be confronted?  These are two different things.  When we are beat up, we might be shamed, judged, or cut into.  When we are confronted, in love; it is completely different.  That person is siding with God’s love and you, in wisdom.  That is the essence of confrontation.  It might bruise us, because we are the one who is out of control, without restraint, and our friend has put a hold on us that says, “no further in our space”; and when we stubbornly writhe, we bruise.

Another aspect of friendships is that our friends wound us.  These are not the bruises of a faithful friend who is standing with God and us in wisdom.  We are like porcupines and when we draw close to one another, we hurt each other.  For this reason, some people stay away from intimate Christian fellowship, and prefer to just be a consumer.  But the rewards of koinonia, massively outweigh the pain and disappointment.  The house of friends is a house of healing and grace. 

Jesus called Judas, “friend “.  How can that be and what does that mean?  It means that we can be betrayed by a friend.  It is always a possibility, but friendships are still worth it.  It also means that friendships have a range of loyalty and faithfulness.  Your friendship towards another may be light years ahead of their friendship towards you.  Your friend may be a taker and an opportunist towards you, while you lay down your life for them.  If that is you, you are in very good company.

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