Weekly Sabbath Survey
What Are Friends For? — 3-14-2015
We all need Godly friends around us. We keep our balance better when we have input from others on a personal level. Hearing a sermon or Bible teaching is good, but the really ‘fine’ work on us is more likely done in context of family and friends. This is where the rocks polish each other in the tumbler. Where iron sharpens iron. The best lessons we ever learn can come from the mouths of friends and family. They hold us accountable. That’s what are friends for. I see these close associations in one of two ways: The Cheerleader or The Critic. The truth is that each person (all of us) can function both ways, but one method will usually be dominate, characterized by the personality of each friend or kin.
The Cheerleader is an encourager, a person of great compassion and mercy. When you mess up, they pray you through it. When you’re down they joke you out of it. If you are NOT sunny side up, they will be, even if they don’t feel it too much themselves. They will brighten your day because they care for you. If there’s a controversy with another person, and you seek advice or unload on this friend, they never accuse you or make you feel like it’s totally your fault. They are always kind and try to be helpful as you work out for yourself what needs to done in the situation. They will always pray with you and for you. That’s what friends are for. People like this tend to make friendships that last a long time. But it is easy for the rest of us to lean on them too hard and/or too often. Their arms are always open, so we should be aware of how much we depend on them and maybe even exhaust them.
The Critic is a “fixer” but many would probably deny that they are. These are the ones who have overcome lots of problems, and are sure that you can, too, with their help, of course. They have found answers and are eager to pass them along because they care for you. They may have criticism for what you’re doing wrong, suggestions for how you can make it better, and hope for you when you feel pretty hopeless. They take their advice seriously and expect you to do the same. They may follow up and check up on you and remind you of what you need to be doing. It’s sort of the mother hen thing. That’s what friends are for. People like this tend to hover too much and may lose friends because of it. But they also make friends for life who love them and stick with them.
These are extreme portraits of the two types of people. Most of us fall somewhere into a combination of the two. A real sensitive friend knows when to be cheerful and loving, and when to offer a corrective word in love, and knows how to back off when necessary. If we are more discerning with our closest associates, even our spouses, we could avoid so many misunderstandings and much hurt feelings by knowing what to be to them in each circumstance. One hallmark of a good friend is one who can listen. That’s a big part of what friends are for.
I want very much to be a good friend to others. I like to make long term, close friendships with a few people rather than having a wide circle of people that I don’t know very well. I’m known as more of a talker, a bit of a fixer, and maybe not the best listener. But I am also one that will cry with you and for you and try to be the most reliable friend I can be.
My kid sister was my closest confidante all our years of growing up and beyond. But we had our moments. One day years ago, we were both married with children, she was very angry with me. But I was not returning that emotion, which frustrated her even more. I was trying to quietly reason with her (in the Lord, of course!) about the advice I was trying to give her. Exasperated, she shouted (screamed?) “Charlie, we could be really good sisters if you would stop trying to be my mother!” It was one of those times when the God’s-honest-truth hits you right between the eyes. After our Mama died, I felt even more responsible for my little sister than I ever had before. She was 30 years old by this time, but I hadn’t noticed, I guess. To me, she was my little sister. That day, she was crying from frustration, and then had me weeping from guilt. I asked her to forgive me. Things were better for us after that when I remembered not to hover so much, or always know so much. I really DON’T have all the answers!
So, I’m still learning. Life is after all, STILL a school, isn’t it?
Two people can do more than twice the good of one. And, if one falls, the other will help him up. But if a person falls when they are alone, they are in trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Charlene Reams Manning
Believer in the Lord Jesus Messiah
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