Friends for Life Part II

Steve Arterburn

David and Jonathan were committed to being channels of life to one another–which is amazing since under most circumstances these two would have been archrivals!

Do you remember their story?  Jonathan was the son of King Saul–the heir to the throne.  David was a young shepherd boy–chosen by God to take King Saul’s place as king.  This wasn’t because Jonathan lacked the character to be king but because his father Saul didn’t love or trust God.  On the contrary, when you read about Jonathan you will see in particular a man of great character. He wanted to honor his father.  Yet he loved his friend David.

How could such a friendship evolve or survive?  Their friendship was born of the fact that both Jonathan and David love the Lord.  Both trusted in God’s goodness.  So when life became complicated–like when Saul was trying to hunt down David and kill him–both David and Jonathan trusted in the Lord and his promises.  Only through the gift of spiritual friendship–a friendship rooted in God’s love and wisdom–could this be possible.

David and Jonathan made a covenant to under gird and support their friendship.  We aren’t given the specifics of the covenant, but it certainly included their commitment to God and to each other.  If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider taking steps to initiate this sort of friendship.

Get It? Good!

Steve Arterburn

When Rick Warren, my pastor, finishes making a point, he’ll often ask the congregation, ‘Get it?’

To which everyone responds, ‘Got it!’

He then punctuates his point with a hearty, ‘Good!’

The most important word picture Jesus painted of God is that of a loving Father’merciful, yet strong. That’s why God, at times, appears unconcerned with preserving our dignity or catering to our emotions. He’s in the character carving business, and if there is some discomfort along the way, then so be it.

For the man who is willing to trust God’s way and be God’s man, even when it hurts, great reward awaits. It’s important to God that we understand this part of it too. It’s like the experience of a big win in sports’a hard-fought victory that sticks with you. You’re changed by it. And the next time you’re in the heat of battle, you know what to expect. You’re better for the experience.

Throughout your life, you’ll inevitably come to forks in the road. And sometimes, one path may look easier than the other. Never make your decision based on that. In fact, when standing before that fork, it’s often the more challenging path’that is, the path that’ll test your character more’that’s the better path.

Those paths that look so daunting at the start are often the same paths we’re later glad we took. For as Romans 5:4 assures us, perseverance creates character, and character produces hope.

Get it? (pause) Good!

Choosing Friends Wisely

Steve Arterburn

Men, the company we keep makes a big difference between whether we move forward in spiritual maturity or backslide into sin. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 15:33, ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ Never consider yourself too strong to heed the apostle’s warning.

 

The book of Proverbs, on the other hand, offers this wisdom for skillful living: ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.’ Wood doesn’t sharpen iron; neither does stone. When it comes to intimate friendships, men, like needs like. So with this in mind, you ought to be spending time with people who will sharpen your thinking, support you with prayer, and encourage you with their character.

Friends who live their lives without self-pity and bitterness can nurture your growth. Although it can be good to get input from people who struggle with the same temptations you do, try to spend time with people who have a history of struggling honestly, faithfully, and redemptively with these issues. Whiners, pessimists, complainers, and people with hopeless indifference simply don’t make good friends.

Guys, we all need other people. But none of us need people who will drag us in a direction that goes against God’s high calling upon our lives. We need other men who will encourage us, confront us, and continually nudge us in the right direction. Choose friends like these, and you’ll be choosing your friends wisely.