Friend

Iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:17).

Almost every single Sunday I have lived on this earth has been spent with family.

When I was growing up my parents hauled our family weekly to both of my grandparents homes after church. I couldn’t wait to get to each place so I could be with my cousins (who were always more like extended siblings for me). Even at a young age, I remember feeling an acute ache in my heart when we had to leave one another at the days end; especially in the summers.

I believe this is because God created us with a fervent need to share our lives with others…to function together in community and fellowship.

There is a depth to which followers of Jesus need each other. Having godly friends in our lives gives place for us to grow, gain counsel from others who are more experienced, and bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:1). Having a friend who can listen and understand where we’re coming from is a God endowed gift.

(Lean into this thought with me for a moment, Mama friend).

I can’t help but think how Jesus, who could have chosen to complete His earthly ministry all by himself, instead chose to surround himself with a group of friends. For three years, the disciples lived together, ate together, celebrated together, and mourned together.

True friendships are meant to be this way. To edify. They heighten our joy. And of ALL the many joys of life, God is the greatest. We were made for Him — to enjoy him and center our hearts and lives on him. And much like any other joy, our joy in God will be fullest when we share it with others. It takes time and commitment, but it is worth it because friendship is one of the tools God uses to sanctify and allow us to experience more of Him as we share more with each other.

Gospel-centered friendships are rooted in a willingness to talk about the hard things in life. There is a freedom to discuss the bad habits you can’t seem to shake. When an impossible family situation arises, you can turn to a faithful friend. If you struggle to get out of bed each morning, it doesn’t have to be kept in the dark. Gospel-centered friendship roots both parties deeply in hope and truth. I don’t believe we place enough emphasis on them; on their vitality through our motherhood journey, and life in general.

Sin can really deceive us. It darkens our understanding, and to put it bluntly, makes us fools. So much so that we may be walking in sin and convinced that we are obeying God (think of the Pharisees). This is another reason why we desperately need solid friends: To lovingly show us where we’re wrong. We need friends to help us see our blind spots. To speak to us with brutal honesty (Matthew 18:15) and tender compassion (Galatians 6:1), telling us the truth about ourselves even when we don’t want to hear it (Ephesians 4:15).

Few people want this type of companion (can you imagine that?). It seems we’d much rather have friends who always tell us what we want to hear, and show us a false grace and false hope that we can grow closer to God without repentance. But because sin is a poison to our souls and a thief of our joy in God, we cannot afford to forsake this kind of friendship.

While it is true we need friends to help us see disobedience, we also need them to push us to obedience. Often, obedience to God takes more courage than we can muster alone. Without the faithful cheerleading of Christian friends, we can so easily shrink back into stagnant apathy, not wanting to willfully disobey, but also too afraid to step out in faith. Just recently out of nowhere my son announced to me the two friends he would choose to be with if the entire school were lined up on the playground. When I probed him about his choice, his answer was simple: because they help me make good choices.

God wants us to encourage and motivate our friends to continue running the specific race God has marked out for them. What a blessing that can be! Oh, how desperately we need to pray for our children to be gifted these type of friendships. We as Mamas and wives stand in need of these same life-giving friendships. Like cool water to a thirsty soul.

Behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. (Luke 5:18–19)

Can you detect the sacrificial love here? A love that mirrors that of our Savior. A Savior who, bruised and bloodied, shouldered the weight of sins that were not his own, carried a cross up a hill, and died an agonizing death upon it, all for the ones He calls His friends.

Walking through life in a God-belittling world, with our sin-ridden flesh, against a hell-bent enemy, is just too. dang. much. to be attempted alone.

Alone, we easily believe the lies of Satan.

Alone, we buckle under the weight of our sin.

Alone, we grow discouraged and weary. Like the paralytic in the story above, we so often need the help of other believing friends to carry us to God. And sometimes, that simply looks like bringing our friends to God in prayer, asking him to do greater things in their lives than we can do for them.

We weren’t meant to do life alone, friends. If you have found yourself isolating in loneliness this past year, please don’t dismiss the earnest necessity of authentic friendship. We NEED one another. Because God is infinite, He knew all the struggles and hardships you and I would EVER face, from our past, present, and future. This is why He didn’t intend for us to go it alone.

So pick up your phone. Text that friend. Set that date. Reach out.

A Christian friendship is a treasure, because it helps us cling to our greatest Treasure of all. And boy do we need a WHOLE lot more of that in our hearts and lives.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother (Prov 18:24).

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