Life Lines II : Godly Friendships Help You Grow
QUESTION | Has a friend ever helped you learn something surprising about yourself?
Have you ever learned something surprising about yourself from a friend? Maybe it was when they said you had food on your face, or introduced you to a new hobby that you ended up loving, or finally pointed out that you've been spelling their name incorrectly for your entire friendship.
Has a friend ever helped you learn something surprising about yourself?
Isn't it amazing how our friends can help us see things we weren't able to see before? Sometimes our friends help us see our weird quirks. Sometimes they help us see our best qualities. And sometimes they help us see the areas of our lives where we still need to grow.
There are so many reasons why we need friends like that. We need friends to throw us a lifeline . . .
WHEN WE'RE DRIFTING. It's not usually one sudden movement that gets us into trouble. It's more like a series of bad habits that slowly pull away from who we want to be.
WHEN WE'RE DISTRACTED. Little distractions can become big problems when they make us lose focus on the things that matter most.
WHEN WE'RE DROWNING. I don't know if you've ever felt like you were drowning in your own life before, but I have. Sometimes life gets overwhelming, or too hard, or too sad, or too busy.
When we're drifting, or distracted, or drowning, we are sometimes the last people to notice. So when we start to drift, or get distracted, or drown, we could all use a friend who's willing to disrupt us with their well-timed help, support, or challenge.
There are a lot of bad examples of friendship out there, but we have one really great example of a friend we can look to — and that's the kind of friendship Jesus gave to people. In this series, we're looking at four times Jesus was a friend to someone who needed Him. Then we're talking about what we can learn from Jesus' example.
Luke 10:38-42 The Message (MSG)
Mary and Martha
38-40 As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”
41-42 The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”
Mary and Martha were two of Jesus' disciples. We use the term "disciple" a lot when we talk about Jesus, but it's important to remember that this term didn't begin with Jesus. "Disciple" has a long history in the Jewish faith. A disciple is a student of a rabbi, or Jewish teacher. But being a disciple wasn't just about learning. It was about imitating the lessons and life of their teacher. Mary and Martha knew Jesus was an important teacher — the most important Teacher ever, actually.
But all of that pressure must have gone to Martha's head because, when Jesus entered the house, she got distracted. Martha was so busy trying to make everything perfect for Jesus' visit that she wouldn't sit down and listen to Him teach. She went on a house-cleaning and food-preparation spree instead.
Then she got really frustrated. Maybe Martha was frustrated with her sister for not helping. Or maybe she was frustrated with herself for prioritizing the wrong things. Either way, she took her frustration out on her sister . . . and Jesus called her out on it.
A conversation like that is never easy. I imagine it must have felt a little embarrassing, both for Martha and anyone within earshot. But Jesus wasn't harsh, or impatient, or rude. Jesus simply helped Martha see something she hadn't seen before. He gave her a chance to choose a different way.
Maybe Martha didn't know she had the option to simply sit with Jesus. A woman sitting at a rabbi's feet as a disciple would have been controversial in that time and place. Maybe she thought it was her job to take care of everyone, and that she would have been a failure if she hadn't. Maybe she was so in the habit of helping others that she had forgotten how to take care of herself.
So Jesus gently says, "Martha. Martha. It's okay. Sit with us for a while. Let's talk." When Martha was drifting, distracted, and drowning in her self-imposed responsibilities, Jesus threw her a lifeline. He helped her see something she had never seen before, and then He gave her a chance to grow.
This was a vulnerable moment. Jesus didn't condemn or shame Martha, but He didn't ignore the moment either. Jesus saw the thing Martha couldn't see in herself, and then He invited her to make a change. Jesus does this for us too, and He invites us to do the same thing for each other.
Last week we read a passage of Scripture that is so important I want to read it again
Ephesians 5:1-2 The Message (MSG)
Wake Up from Your Sleep
5 1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
We're called to be imitators of God — remember that? So does that mean Jesus wants us to skip out on our chores for the rest of our lives? Um, that's probably not the lesson here, no.
But if we're supposed to be imitators of God, then it's important to look closely at Jesus' example to see how we can be more like Him in every area of our lives — including our friendships.
Just like Jesus gave Martha a chance to change and grow, we can imitate God in our friendships when we build friendships that help us grow.
Godly friendships give you opportunities to see things you can't see in yourself. Then they challenge you to keep growing alongside people who love you and are cheering for you.
GODLY FRIENDSHIPS HELP YOU GROW
So where do you need to grow? Are you drifting, distracted, or drowning? Do you have the kind of friends who will help you see what you can't see, so you can become who God has called you to be?
Maybe you have some bad habits you wish you could kick, and some good habits you wish you could develop.
Maybe a friendship or relationship has gotten complicated and you could really use some outside perspective to help you figure out what to do next.
Maybe you've been working toward a personal goal for a long time now, but now you feel stuck and could use a push.
Or maybe the way you act at church is inconsistent with the way you act everywhere else — you want to be consistent, but you're not sure how to start.
PRAYER | My Friend List
Take a minute to thank God for the friendships you have that help you grow. It's okay if this isn't a long list. If you're struggling to name even one person, use this time to ask God to bring a friend into your life who can help you grow. As you pray, thank or ask God for friends who . . .
Help you grow closer to God. Godly friends should invite you to discover more about your Creator and about God's purpose for your life.
Help you grow as a person. Godly friends should help you see your blind spots and weaknesses, and then help you make a change.
Help you grow in the way you love others. Godly friends should help you turn your focus outward, help draw you out of your comfort zone, and help you practice loving others.
In godly friendships, your friends should do this for you, and you should do this for your friends.