Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 11/26/15



STORY: Christmas Card Friends

Once I stash the leftover Thanksgiving turkey, I start working on my Christmas card mailing list. It takes me a while to complete them because I send cards to a large circle of family and friends, plus our entire church mailing list. Part of the process is to think about those who have sent me Christmas cards in the past to ensure I reciprocate. When I get cards in the mail, they fall into four categories:

#1-Personalized cards with preprinted names. 
#2-Cards with signed names. 
#3-Form letter looking back over the year. 
#4-A personal note from the sender. 

All the cards and notes mean something to me because the person took the time to think of me. I don’t have time every year to write personal notes. Change that. I don’t make the time. It’s all about choices.

Acquaintances and friendships develop in a similar pattern. Intimacy builds with transparency. Some friendships remain distant because conversations are shallow and walls of protection exist. As the walls come down and the conversations become more real, the friendship potential grows. Some people I know in name only, just like the cards I receive with the senders’ names printed inside. With other relationships, I know more than a name, but barely. These friendships are like the signed Christmas cards with little else written. I get to the third level with most friends. I know the facts about their calendar year, but I know less about matters of the heart. When a friendship enters the fourth level, hearts are shared and a bond is formed. Not many reach it to this level. 

The Lord had similar friendship circles. He had those who followed from afar—the masses that knew of Him, but didn’t know Him. The disciples made a greater commitment to follow Him. To them He shared many life lessons. But the three in His inner circle, Peter, James and John, interacted with Jesus in the most intimate way.

Who do you have in your friendship circles? Do you have an open space in the circle for new relationships? Are you maintaining your existing friendships? Perhaps a note or phone call during this upcoming Christmas season would bless them most.

The gift of friendship is one of the best Christmas gifts of all.

"When we consider the blessings of God—the gifts that add beauty and joy to our lives, that enable us to keep going through stretches of boredom and even suffering—friendship is very near the top." ~ Donald W. McCullough, Mastering Personal Growth

STUDY: Friends Come with Perks!

Friendships might as well come gift-wrapped and tied up in bows since they bring great blessings when delivered by God.

Friends Give Advice
“The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.” (Proverbs 12:26 NLT)

• It’s important we choose godly friends, and that we act godly in our dealings with our friends.

• Godly friends give good a___________.

• Where can we go for good advice? Our g_________ friends.


Friends Remain Loyal
“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” (Proverbs 17:17 NLT)

• True friends understand the importance of loyalty because they have their friend’s wellbeing as their only agenda.

• Even though the second half of the verse is talking about brothers, it is good to live with the intention of helping others in their times of need.

• When you are in a relationship with someone and he or she is not loyal, do you truly have a friend?


Friends Speak Difficult Truths
“An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” (Proverbs 27:5-6,9 NLT)

• It’s never comfortable to receive criticism from anyone, but it’s better to receive it from a friend who has our best in mind than to have people talking behind our backs.

• We are at risk when we receive praise and flattery from those who wish to do us harm. It may seem great at the time, but it always comes with strings attached.

• When we receive counsel from a friend, it is as s______ as the scent of perfume. It’s hard to hear advice like, “If it were me, I would” and then they go on to share their opinions. But if they’re willing to risk our friendship by speaking difficult truths, we know they are motivated by their love for us. 


STEPS: Build a Better Friendship

This Christmas season, instead of going to a build-a-toy shop, how about going to your own workshop to build a better friendship? What better gift can you give?

1. Choose godly friends. Make a list of at least five friends in your life who are truly godly. You can count on them to act and be Christ-like despite the circumstances.

2. Be a godly friend. Don’t allow your friends to drag you down to their level. Aspire to have integrity and holiness even when you let your hair down with your friends. Before you spend time together, pray and ask God to help your words and actions reflect Him. When you return home, pray and ask God to reveal any ways you fell short of that goal.

3. Determine to be loyal. Can you think of a situation where you are tempted to be less-than-loyal with a friend? Perhaps you’ve heard gossip about them and want to join in on sharing what you know that bugs you about your friend. Ask God to show you how you can be more loyal. It’s one of the best gifts you can give your friends.

4. Be willing to speak the truth, even when it hurts. If God leads you to help your friends see the truth in a situation, be brave enough to speak up. 


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