Living for Christ as a Youth Day 2: Intentional Relationships
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, ESV)
“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:13, ESV)
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33, ESV)
You’ve likely heard the saying, “You become who you spend time with.” I’ve heard this often, but I shrugged it off when I was younger. I’ve always been a strong-willed person, so I didn’t really think my friends had much of an impact on me. I’m old enough to admit when I’m wrong (most of the time), and I was definitely wrong about this. I now totally agree with the statement, and that’s why I want to talk about relationships.
First, there is great value found in friendship, especially friendship centered around Christ. By friendship centered around Christ, I mean relationships with other Christians. These friendships are unlike any other since we have a bond that will never end, following us even into eternity. We are to treat each Christian like they are our family—meaning our brothers and sisters in Christ. I treat my brother with love and respect (most of the time), and that’s how I should also treat my fellow believers.
The wonderful thing about other Christians is that they can support you and offer you the encouragement you need. I’m not going to claim that I always turned to the right places when I needed support, but when I did, I never regretted it. Christian friends can point you in the direction of the Word of God, where we find the ultimate peace and satisfaction. They can also pray for you and for your different needs—we are told to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). This means that we have others to lean on when things get difficult; we don’t have to face things alone.
Sometimes our Christian friends know us a little better than we might like at the time. What I mean is that they might know what’s best for us even if we can’t see it, or maybe don’t even want to accept it. I think of the verse from Proverbs that says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (27:6). When our friends point us in the right direction, it’s not always easy to accept. There has to be some introspection and honesty with ourselves and before God. In the end, heeding their advice is always worth it, and their honesty can strengthen us as Christians.
I’ve said many positive things about having Christian friends, but I’m certainly not going to bash friends that aren’t Christians. I’ve had—and still have—many, and I love each of them! They have challenged my views, and that has made my convictions even stronger. It’s also important for us to be a light for the Lord and a testimony to our friends who might not be believers. God has a reason for each thing He does, and He may have placed us in their lives to share the Gospel with them. Think of that—being used as part of God’s intricate and masterful plan!
We are meant to be a testimony to those around us and our friends, but it’s also important to be mindful of who we are spending the bulk of our time with. It’s hard to uphold our testimony when we are constantly faced with temptations—alcohol, parties, or even constantly hearing gossip. We can still be a testimony, but not engage in these activities that our friends partake in. We are meant to live in light of eternity, and when we’re in Heaven, we won’t remember the after-game party that we never went to.
Now that I’ve talked about different friendships, I want to remind you of one that goes deeper than even Christian friendships. There is Someone who knows you and has had a plan for you from before the beginning of time. In Proverbs 18, we read that we have “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (v.24). Jesus has promised that He will never leave or forsake us, and He sticks closer than any friend ever could. When we feel alone and misunderstood, He is always there to listen and understand where we are coming from. He longs for us to come to Him with everything; come to Him now with anything on your heart!
I hope this is a reminder to you to appreciate those around you, and to also be mindful of who you surround yourself with. Invest in relationships that are God-honoring and life-giving, and most importantly, focus on your relationship with the One who gave everything for you!