Friendship: A Cycle of Sacrifice
A Cycle of Sacrifice.
In the aftermath of my wedding, my wife and I were so relieved and happy that everything had gone off without a hitch. In the days leading up to the wedding, we frantically set up and made sure everything was perfect. We had strung lights over every inch of the reception area, set up dozens of tables and had refreshed our weather app on our phones a hundred times to make sure that we weren’t going to be rained out. All of our preparations exhausted us, but it was worth it when we saw the finished product. As my wife Grace and I left everything behind, my initial thought was: Who is going to take everything down? All of the decorations, the lights and the tables, someone will have to make sure that everything has been cleaned up.
Luckily for us, my friends and family stayed behind after the wedding to take care of the clean-up. It was later that I learned that one of my groomsmen, Trent, had stayed behind until 1 A.M. to take down decorations. This was the same groomsmen that needed to wake up at 5 A.M. to complete a three hour drive for his summer job training. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Trent had characterized himself as a person that was always willing to make extreme sacrifices in order to invest in his friends’ lives. He was always willing to go the extra mile to make his friends feel loved, even when they wouldn’t know the extent of his sacrifices.
We all crave the kind of friends that go out of their way to make us feel loved. However, there are times that we invest in friends that don’t reciprocate or make any tough sacrifices to further along the relationship. Unfortunately, those friendships often become stale and we are left prioritizing the relationships in our lives that show an equal amount of give and take. I know we sometimes are all just slightly tempted to take our birthdays off of Facebook to find out who actually remembers. (Don’t judge me.) The thing is, sometimes it’s us on the other end of that friendship and know that we should invest more.
The constant care and maintenance devoted to our friendships is extremely important and requires hard work, but the benefit of those lasting relationships enriches our lives. C.S. Lewis believes that, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” Friends share our daily experiences and provide insight that allow us to understand and figure out life together. The support and camaraderie we gain from our relationship investments help us to better understand our world.
What can we find in God’s word?
There are many examples of what intentional friendship looks like throughout the Bible. A great place to start is in the first chapter of Ruth. As you know from Tuesday, Naomi, the mother-in-law of Ruth, had lost both of her sons and her husband. She was truly alone. She urged both of her daughters-in-law to return to the land that they came from to start over and begin new families. Ruth ignores Naomi’s advice and decides to stay. She begins a new life with Naomi, going where Naomi went, being a part of her people and serving and trusting her God, the God of Israel (vs. 16-17). Ruth made a sacrifice for her friend.
In the twentieth chapter of 1 Samuel, Jonathan, the son of Saul, the King of Israel, pleads to his father to let go of the anger directed at David, Jonathan’s best friend. By doing this, he disrupts his own relationship with his father and provokes his wrath as well. He puts his own life at risk to warn David of the impending danger that his father poses to him. Jonathan made a big sacrifice for his friend.
Then, in Luke 19, Jesus visits the town of Jericho and eats at the house of Zacchaeus, a corrupt tax collector who cheated the residents of his town and lined his own pockets with their earnings. Jesus knew the people of Jericho were annoyed that he had chosen Zacchaeus of all people to befriend. But, he knew that their grumbling did not compare to the transformation that he wanted for Zacchaeus. Jesus made a sacrifice for his new friend.
So how do we begin to build friendships that matter? How do we improve on friendships that feel one-sided or stagnant? By viewing the strong examples of friendship that are depicted in the Bible, we can begin with several important steps.
Be willing to sacrifice for your friends.
Our friends should know that they mean something to us. Using the resources at our disposal, even when it seems inconvenient, speaks volumes to our friends about how much we value them. Buy dinner and share it with someone, write an encouraging note to a friend going through a tough time, be willing to help out when a friend seems stressed and don’t be afraid to initiate conversations. Jesus laid down his life for the lives of his friends. By the power of the Spirit, we follow Jesus by sacrificing for our friends.
Find friends that challenge you.
In our friendships, don’t be content with stagnancy. Stagnancy breeds boredom and boredom breeds indifference. We all enjoy friends that are consistent, but we also need a certain level of challenge that comes within the friendship. Find friends that are not afraid to keep you accountable. Make sure that your Christian friends are being consistent with God’s word and are willing to do the same for you. Be willing to let your friends know if they need to reevaluate their priorities. Let them know that they need to call you out when you get too fixated on things in this world that don’t matter in comparison to God’s grace. If you have super-close best friends, let them know that tomorrow they need to use antiperspirant deodorant the next day because you could totally tell that they had sweat stains at lunch.
Befriend Christians and non-Christians.
When Jesus entered into a town with his disciples, he befriended those that needed to hear him most. Jesus changed lives by being relational and relatable to those who did not know him or his teachings. Jesus pursued relationships with people from all walks of life. It is vital to remember that Jesus did not place a barrier between himself and those that didn’t know him. He sought them out. It is also important to befriend Christians that share their wisdom and advice for life’s difficulties and trials as well as its successes and triumphs. These close friends are the ones that we go to for Godly counsel and encourage us to resemble Christ’s love. Without them, we lose some key earthly examples of His love for us.
The next time you evaluate your friendships, think about what you can do to let them know they matter.
- How can you sacrifice to let them know that they are cared for?
- Will you sacrifice your money?
- Your time?
- Perhaps some of your commitments that might not be as important?
For this week, and in the weeks to come, let’s think about what we can do to let our friends know they are valued. By showing them that they are loved, we further along God’s plan for our community and his desire to see his children united as one body.
Post by David Prindle.
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