Bible Verse: “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!” (Philippians 4:1)

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:1-23

You may have hundreds, perhaps even thousands of “friends” in your social network, but have you ever experienced true friendship with someone? If you have, you know the difference between an online “friend” and an authentic friendship.

The Internet makes it easy for us to network and connect with people. Yet, in an ironic twist, North Americans say that they have fewer close friends than ever before. The very technologies designed to link us together end up driving us apart.

This decline in real friendships and the resulting loneliness we experience are not without cost. Medical researchers and social scientists have pointed out that a strong link exists between friendship and well-being.

When God created the world – separating the light from darkness, the ground from the seas, and making plants, trees, fish, birds, and mammals – he deemed all that he had made “very good.” Then God saw something in his created world that was not good and uttered these telling words: “It is not good that man is alone.”

We can have a relationship with God, fulfilling work to do, and an enviable home and lifestyle – but if we don’t have close friendships with others, we soon realize that something essential is missing. Relationships are woven into our nature, crafted into our DNA. When we connect with others in healthy, loving ways, we reflect the image of God.

Life-giving relationships are as important to our spiritual growth and well-being as prayer and Bible reading. They serve an important role in the trellis that supports our life with God.
The purpose of spiritual friendship is to grow in our love for Christ. It’s hard to overestimate how the presence of a fellow pilgrim in our lives can keep us walking in the way of Christ.

If you do not yet have a true spiritual friend, how can you go about seeking one?

First of all, pray that God would give you a friend. Our friends are gifts from God and we can pray that God would fulfill his plan and draw us into the friendships he has ordained for us.

Secondly, ask people to do things with you and initiate opportunities to deepen your relationship. The fact that God offers the gift of friendship with others doesn’t mean we don’t participate in the process. Being intentional can make a difference. Friendships take time, sweat and sacrifice; they can lead to disappointment, frustration, and even heartbreak. But they are worth it.

Finally, be a friend to others. The best way to grow a friendship, of course, is to be a friend. People who genuinely show friendship are precious and increasingly rare. Decide to swim against the current of our culture and form true friendships in which you commit to others, lift them up, and let them into your life. As our rule of life helps us to deepen our friendship with Jesus, we in turn can offer true friendship to others.

— Ken Shigematsu in God In My Everything
Copyright © 2013 by Ken Shigematsu


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