Sunday 22nd April Morning
Barry Littleford Friendship Relationships are central to who we are as human beings, even the most introverted of us needs to be in relationship with others to have a sense of connection, love, companionship and togetherness. It doesn’t matter whether you are a person of faith or not, relationships are still important. What being a person of faith does is give us a framework for what healthy relationships look like and his desire for us is that in all our relationships we are as healthy as possible. So in this series we will be looking at the different relationships in our lives and how we should invest in them. Any relationship just doesn’t happen, it takes time, energy and commitment to make them healthy, whether a parent to child, child to parent, friendships, work relationships or marriage. What we don’t always know is what things we should be doing to keep our relationships healthy in the different areas in our lives. Unfortunately not all relationships stay healthy, but that can be because we or the other person can put an unhealthy weight on them, looking for them to do more than they are intended to be. We expect people to fill holes in our lives that they were never intended to fill. We have all had the friend that wants only to deal with their problems, always has a crisis, always demanding of time but never gives back. We all have that relationship that is demanding, we know that it is not what it is meant to be. Sometimes we can cope with it and sometimes we have to cut them loose for we feel like we will drown, but this is not Gods plan for us in relationships. Let’s have a look at Paul and what he indicates he does for those he cares about. Philippians 1:3-11 3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. V 3-6 First lesson we get for friendship is that we should have them in mind and with thankfulness. A friend thinks about the other but does so with a thankful heart. First thing is to think of them, to remember them in your daily routine, to have who they are gladly enter our thinking. I say this because my Nanna was one who struggled to do this, if you were not with her she did not think of you. It was only when you entered her presence did she make any connection with you. There were no cards, no phone calls, no popping in. Unless we made an effort she didn’t think of us. It’s easy when we have community that meets regularly like this one to just rely on the face to face, but real friendships think of others in the in-between. Real friendships are just not thinking about them in the in- between they have a thinking of thankfulness. This means that we are appreciating them for who they are, it’s not about what they can give us or what they demand of us but it is thanking God for who they are as a person, how they have been created. This thankfulness enables our hearts to stay on point and not drift into wanting to not caring. Thankfulness lets us see that a person is on a journey and God is still at work in them not desiring them to be perfect. V 7-8 Second lesson is to have something in common. We have our faith in common and this is what Paul is drawing on, but a common like or a common experience or a common passion will keep you connected. A lot of couples hit a dangerous period when their kids grow up and leave home, because their common connection is their kids and once they have gone they have little in common anymore. For us it is our relationship with Jesus that holds us together, that is why praying together is important, why sharing stories of what God is doing in your life is important so you have this common ground of relationship with Jesus. Lastly a friend wants to see the best happen to the other. V9-11 It is only when you are not seeking to make the relationship about you that you will genuinely get something rewarding out of it. It is tempting to make relationships about our needs, our wants, fill the wholes in us that God is meant to fill but the power comes when we let God fill our needs and then can be a blessing to others. It is then that we can pray for our relationships that God will bless them, that we will look at ways that we can be a blessing to them. There is nothing more significant then a friend stepping in in a time of need and helping us just because they want to bless us. A friend will always want the other to grow in their relationship with God, whether they believe in him or not. If you want the very best for them then it is the knowledge that they can only be their truly best if they are growing in their faith. Our prayer then is that they are going deeper with God and that we are an encouragement for them. The basis of all good relationships is that we want the best for the other person, whether friendship, family or colleague. It is the example of what God does to us in wanting the best for us while we were distant from him. Relationships fill a deep need within us but are not there to fill our deepest need. God is meant to fill the deepest needs of our hearts, our relationship are to flow out of that fulfilment. What are your friendships like, are you using them to fulfil your own needs? If you are you will never be satisfied. People will always let you down, you will always feel like they are not meeting your expectations. If you let God fill your needs and then enter into friendships you will be a blessing and be blessed. Turn to God, ask him to fill the holes in your life that need filling then you will be the best friend you can be.