The relief in her voice was apparent, “I didn’t know if I should forward the email to you, but then I thought, ‘Yes, she’s my friend.’” More
Her situation couldn’t have been much more hopeless. More
I was moving fast when my friend texted me her grievances against another. Company was due to arrive within the hour, and everything seemed to be happening at once. Between combining the liquid mixture for the corn muffins and texting my hubby about what I needed him to pick up from the store, I texted some hard truth to my friend in response to her message.
Then, with messy hands, I forwarded my response to three people who were aware of the situation and who were praying for my friend. I wrote, “Just sent this to our friend. Please pray. Her heart is so hard.” More
Dear College Grad,
Congrats! You’ve worked so hard, and now commencement is over. I was cheering big as you walked across the stage, and I’m praying for you as you make this transition out of college. I remember well the conflicting emotions: mourning all the goodbyes, anticipating all the adventures just ahead.
Speaking of adventures just ahead . . . let’s talk about that, because if your experience is anything like mine, reality won’t quite meet your expectations. More
You might remember that a few months ago I wrote a series on encouragement:
I still think encouraging others is super important. But I want to give you a broader picture, because God doesn’t only call us to encourage others, but to correct them in love.
In “3 Epic Reasons to Encourage Others,” I copy and pasted this quote at the top:
Correction does much, but encouragement does more. ~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
It sounded catchy, but it’s not necessarily biblical. Check out 2 Timothy 3:16–17 to see what I mean:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
I realize that correcting a Christian isn’t popular in our culture that screams, “Don’t judge!” But that’s not how God’s Word looks at it.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted (Gal. 6:1).
Obviously if someone’s not a Christian, we don’t expect them to obey God. They’re dead in their sins. But if someone is a believer, here’s how God tells us to respond to them:
If anyone does not obey . . . warn him as a brother (2 Thess. 3:14–15).
And then in 2 Timothy 4:2:
Be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
It’s scary, I know. As I write this, I think I need to have a conversation with at least one sister in Christ who’s making some foolish, dangerous decisions. I’m afraid I might lose her friendship. But will I fear her or God more?
Is there a believer you need to gently but boldly warn as well? I’d love to hear about it.
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19–20).
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Prov. 13:20).
I’ll never forget the fifth grade talent show. Samantha Gilman offered to turn the pages while I played a difficult classical piano piece. But I was ashamed to sit next to her. She was a Christian; she was a friend. But she wasn’t cool, and she didn’t fit in at school.
Truth was, I wasn’t all that cool, so I didn’t want to be associated with her. I wanted to become more cool, not less! So I told Samantha no, I’d be just fine.
And fine I was—for a few measures. But then, just as I was turning the page, my book crashed down on the keys, interrupting my performance with a jarring bang. So much for my cool factor.
The notes swam as I finished the rest of the piece through my tears. Why oh why hadn’t I gratefully accepted Samantha’s help? Oh yeah . . . I was concerned about how she would make me look.
Instead of girls like Samantha, I wanted the “cool” kids as friends. Only problem was, the “cool” kids were also what the Bible calls . . . “fools.” They didn’t fear God, and they weren’t looking out for my best interests.
One “friend” convinced me to date a non-Christian guy behind my parents’ backs. Another “cool fool” sneaked a pair of short shorts to school for me to wear without my parents knowing about it.
How to Spot a Cool Fool
Here are just a few ways you can spot a “cool fool.”
A cool fool:
- Doesn’t believe in God (Ps. 14:1).
- Scoffs at God (Ps. 74:22).
- Hates being told what’s right (Prov. 1:7).
- Talks, talks, talks, talks, talks (Prov. 10:8).
- Puts other people down (Prov. 10:18).
- Laughs at doing wrong (Prov. 10:23).
- Thinks they’re always right (Prov. 12:15).
- Lets everyone know when they’re bugged (Prov. 12:16).
- Is reckless and careless (Prov. 14:16).
- Has a hot temper (Prov. 14:17).
- Hates their parents’ instruction (Prov. 15:5).
- Hates their parents (Prov. 15:20).
- Doesn’t learn when they’re corrected (Prov. 17:10).
- Doesn’t try to understand others (Prov. 18:2).
- Is extremely opinionated (Prov. 18:2).
- Starts fights with their mouths (Prov. 18:6).
- Quarrels and fights (Prov. 20:3).
- Doesn’t have self-control (Prov. 21:20).
- Is not trustworthy (Prov. 26:6).
Choosing Your Direction
Whether you realize it or not, your friends are taking you somewhere. They’re either leading you closer to God or further away from Him. So which direction are you headed? What do you look for in your friends?
Take it from me: Don’t think more highly of yourself than you should. Receive help from the “Samanthas” in your life, and steer clear of the cool fools.
“Cool Friends . . . or Fool Friends?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com
I’m a crummy friend. I didn’t even realize it until last Friday, when Revive Our Hearts asked their employees to spend four hours on an exercise called the Personal Vitality Plan. We were to look at twelve areas of our life and evaluate what’s been going well, what’s been being neglected, and what some achievable steps are to replenish that area.
It didn’t take long to realize what was anemic. My relationships. Specifically, my friendships.
Until now, my idea of a good friend has been one whom I don’t have to spend a lot of time with, but when I do, we pick up right where we left off. But now I wonder if my definition of friendship has simply been a sorry excuse for neglect and selfishness on my part.
Oh, I haven’t painted it that way. I’ve chosen the busyness of “ministry” above friendships, investing more time in those who are “needy” while my iron-sharpening-iron friendships have simmered on the back burner.
As spiritual as that has seemed, I wonder if it has had more to do with pride and fear than love and compassion. There’s something self-inflating about being the one people always look to for help and answers. But since when are friendships one-sided?
When I look at Scripture I see friendship described with words like:
- talking face to face (Ex. 33:11)
- your friend who is as your own soul (Deut. 13:6)
- loyalty (2 Sam 16:16)
- kindness (Job 6:14)
- trust (Ps. 41:9)
- celebrating together (Luke 15:29)
- grieving together (Ps. 35:14)
Now I see that I’ve been treating my closest friends as if they’re optional. But Jesus tells me in John 15:12–17 that friendship isn’t optional (and in the process, He calls me His friend!):
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. . . . These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
It took me less than the allotted four hours to realize that I was a crummy friend, so I spent the remaining time sending emails and setting up specific plans.
I asked one friend if she’d be willing to spend time together regularly. I don’t want to get spread so thin maintaining all kinds of relationships that no one really knows what’s going on deep in my heart. I asked her to meet with me regularly for several reasons:
- She loves and cares about me.
- She already knows me well and runs in my circles.
- She’s not afraid to ask me hard questions. You know, the kind that make you squirm.
Once that was taken care of, I began making plans to choose people over pixels: scheduling a party for artists in April, inviting neighbors over to roast marshmallows in the fireplace before spring arrives in full vigor, exploring the possibility of a getaway with two other about-to-turn-thirty-year-olds.
Since Friday, I’ve attended a birthday party, two movie nights, and am headed to the Art Institute in Chicago with the girls in my family this Saturday. Oh, and I’m asking God to teach me how to be a good friend. To learn to love . . . and be loved.
How about you? What do you tend to value more than friendship? What’s your excuse for letting your friendships simmer on the back burner? And if you’re the one feeling undervalued in a friendship, how can you continue to extend grace and reach out to that busy friend?
“Confessions of a Crummy Friend” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com.