- There are different levels of friendships.
Define: acquaintance, casual friendship, close friendship (mutuality), and intimate friendship.
2. There are different seasons of friendships.
Your life is like a skyscraper, with each floor representing a different part of your life. Realize that some friends are there for a season: you may be sharing the experience of a hobby your child likes together, or have children in the same activities or sports, but afterwards it is difficult to keep connections with each and every one of these friends. They may remain a special part of special memories, but with time limitations you simply cannot keep connected to every friend you meet along the path of your life.
- There are different reasons for friendships.
If you let God pick some friends for some seasons for you,
Some friends are in your life because you add something vital to their lives…
If you are aware of how God provides for you through some seasons,
Some friends are in your life because they add something vital to your life…
In the process, you may find the golden,
Some friends are in your life because you each add something vital to each others’ lives.
The 10 rules of any friendship
- Establish boundaries.
It is very important that you not make your friends (or any one for that matter) a prisoner of your expectations. For example, you may expect a friend to call you often, stop by occasionally, have a coffee time or activity together, keep in touch regularly. If your friend does one or two of these things, you may feel disappointed because you were thinking they should do so much more. Give your expectations to God and let HIM meet your needs according to HIS riches. Then, when a friend or a relative is able to do something with or for you, you are able to be grateful because you didn’t expect so much more from them!
Also, it is important that your time and financial expenditures reflect your priorities in your life. Although we would writ3e our priorities down in an order that would really indicate what is most important to us in our lives, often we are not making strong choices so that our activities and expenditures reflect those priorities. You may say, “God is number one in my life, then my husband then my children, then our parents, then the rest of our families, then our friends,” but if you truly look at the choices you make, you may find that you are not living true to your stated priorities. Do you really put God first? Do you spend time in the Word each day and make time to demonstrate to Him that He is first in your life? Do you truly put your husband first above your children’s needs? How does he see this demonstrated in action? It is important to establish boundaries so that the people that matter the most to you in your life aren’t getting your leftovers. Believe me, if they are getting leftovers, they know it!
- Be loyal.
True friendship is “walking in the Light.” “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. . . . If we walk in the light, as he [Christ] is in the light, we have fellowship one with another . . .” (I John 1:5, 7).
“. . . A whisperer separateth chief friends” (Proverbs 16:28).
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:6).
It is amazing to me the number of people that willingly speak badly about their husband, children, family and friends! Loyalty is becoming a lost character trait! Speak well of the people you love. One child defined love this way: when you love someone their name is safe in your mouth.
- Don’t keep track.
“A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
My Dad taught me never to keep track. If I didn’t have people willing to call me way more often than I was able to call them, at certain periods in my life I wouldn’t even been able to have any friends at all! If you are the one gifted with planning events and getting people together, keep doing it. Just because others don’t reciprocate or have you over for dinner, or call you, don’t keep track. Stay the person you are: not only will it often inspire others, but you yourself will have the blessing of being the best you can be at all times and being true to who God made you to be!
- Be patient and gracious.
You are walking through life with imperfect people. Be patient and gracious and pull the best from others.
- S – t – r – e – t – c – h!
1 John 3.16 tells us, Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. “Sacrifice” is the definition of love. We ought to lay down our lives for others. Our loving them is not a question of coming up to someone and patting them on the back. The way that we can show them we love them is to make personal sacrifices to meet their needs. The only way you can express your love is by making sacrifices in your life for others.
- Bring who you are to the relationship.
I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better. – Plutarch
Don’t just be someone who agrees with everything your friend does! Be sure you are bringing your perspective and your gifts and insights into any relationship you want to have meaning!
- Love with your head as well as your heart.
There is no reason we should be friends with everyone, and one thing that kids should get used to early on is that space and limits to relationship are necessary.
8. Examine your motives.
Why do you want to be a friend to someone? Make sure your motives are pure. A good friend adds to your life and you add to their life too.
- Make each other’s life better because you are in it.
We are to “consider [observe fully] one another to provoke [incite] unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24). Close friends should pull greatness out of us. True friends exhort and encourage one another.
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17).
Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. – Oprah Winfrey
10. The “ins” and “outs” of friendship: knowing when to “hold them” and when to “fold them.”
Growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that. – Ally Condie
Realize that those who reject Christ should reject you. You can have casual friendships with non-believers, but you should not have intimate friendships with non-believers, because you do not share the same goals. (Proverbs 13:20 – Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.)
Learn to “stand alone” against evil, and to say “I am not able to do that” when your friends do things that work against your goals in life.
We will use the word “STRETCH”…
S – See the need. What is hospitality? The word in the Greek is philoxenia, which literally means “love of strangers.”
1 Thess 4.9 tells us But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 1 Peter 1.22 – Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: The word “fervently” in the Greek is ektenes, a medical word used of “stretching a muscle.” In other words, stretch out as far as you can to love that person out there.
Hospitality is one of the qualities a pastor or bishop has as an outward show of an inward commitment to the Lord: as part of that desire to be the Lord’s hand extended, it is natural that the Word tells us that he will be “given to hospitality” (1 Tim 3.2) or “a lover of hospitality” (Titus 1.8).
T – Transcend normal motives. But hospitality is not only for pastors and bishops: it is something God establishes in all believers once they commit their lives to Him. Let’s read Rom 12.5-21. Verse 13 says “given to hospitality.” What that really means is to “pursue” hospitality: literally to “suffer persecution/press forward” to hospitality.
The enemy is so against our getting together. Any time we seek to get together to lift up the Lord, the enemy will come against it and it will seem like persecution. Perhaps that is why the Greek literally admonishes us to press forward or suffer (permit) persecution for hospitality’s sake!
R – Repeatable. My best times opening my house were times where my children were wound up and not listening, or my home was in disarray (I remember one time my water had to be turned off and I still had a group of people over although my kitchen was all ripped up trying to find the plumbing problem!). When everything was perfect, others felt they couldn’t open their homes in the same fashion so it wasn’t able to inspire them. However, when it was real, many many people told me it encouraged them to open their homes even in the midst of training little children, upsets, and nuances of everyday life.
In becoming a “lover of hospitality,” know the difference between entertaining and hospitality. Karen Mains in Open Heart, Open Home says:
Entertaining says, “I want to impress you with my home, my clever decorating, my cooking.” Hospitality seeking to minister, says, “This home is a gift from my Master. I use it as He desires.”
Hospitality aims to serve. Entertaining puts things before people. “As soon as I get the house finished, the living room decorated, my housecleaning done – then I will start inviting people.”
Hospitality puts people first. “No furniture – we’ll eat on the floor!” “The decorating may never get done – you come anyways.” “The house is a mess – but you are friends – come home with us.” Entertaining subtly declares, “This home is mine, an expression of my personality. Look, please, and admire.” Hospitality whispers, “What is mine is yours.”
E – Extend the group. “Open your circle and let someone in!” True hospitality can only come as a result of commitment to the Lord as He implants in His children’s hearts the desire to be His hand extended. It is the love of strangers: Luke 14.12-14. It is where people cannot pay you back where it is true hospitality.
Matt 25.35-44 tells of true hospitality, when Jesus specifically tells us that it is our acceptance of HIM when we extend our hospitality to strangers. Strangers is the Greek word xenos; which is part of the word “hospitality.” Hospitality: our hand extended in His Name to strangers and those who would not really or could not really repay the hospitality.
1 Peter 4.8 – And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Cover a multitude of sins can have two meanings:
T – Themes help. Ideas for themes we’ve had… Groups of 12… Problems with the pinochle party alone…
C – Challenge others. Hebrews 10:24-25, And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
H – Help: Enlist Some! 1 Peter 4.7-10 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.