* Friendships can be torn apart by jealousy
God kept his promise to bless Isaac. The neighboring Philistines grew jealous because everything Isaac did seemed to go right. So they plugged his wells and tried to get rid of him. Jealousy is a dividing force strong enough to tear apart the mightiest of nations or the closest of friends. It forces you to separate yourself from what you were longing for in the first place. When you find yourself becoming jealous of others, try thanking God for their good fortune. Before striking out in anger, consider what you could lose—a friend, a job, a spouse? (NLT)
Genesis 26:12-16 – That year Isaac’s crops were tremendous! He harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. He became a rich man, and his wealth only continued to grow. He acquired large flocks of sheep and goats, great herds of cattle, and many servants. Soon the Philistines became jealous of him, and they filled up all of Isaac’s wells with earth. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham.
And Abimelech asked Isaac to leave the country, “Go somewhere else,” he said, “for you have become too rich and powerful for us.”
* Friendships with the wicked
The writer begins his psalm extolling the joys of obeying God and refusing to listen to those who discredit or ridicule him. Our friends and associates can have a profound influence on us, often in very subtle ways. If we insist on friendships with those who mock what God considers important, we might sin by becoming indifferent to God’s will. This attitude is the same as mocking. Do your friends build up your faith, or do they tear it down? True friends should help you to draw closer to god, not hinder. (NLT)
Psalm 1:1 – Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers.
* Who your friends are says much about you
The old saying “A rotten apple spoils the barrel” is often applied to friendships, and with good reason. Our friends and associates affect us,, sometimes profoundly. Be careful whom you choose as your closest friends. Spend time with people you want to be like—because you and yo9ur friends will surely grow to resemble each other. (NLT)
Proverbs 13:20 – Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm.
* Loyalty a true test of friendship
What kind of friend are you? There is a vast difference between knowing someone well and being a true friend. The greatest evidence of genuine friendship is loyalty—being available to help in times of distress or personal struggle. Too many people are fair-weather friends. They stick around when the friendship helps them and leave when they’re not getting anything out of the relationship. Think of your friends and assess your loyalty to them. Be the kind of true friend the Bible encourages. (NLT)
Proverbs 17:17 – A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
* Become a friend to others
Loneliness is everywhere—many people feel cut off and alienated from others. Being in a crowd just makes people more aware of their isolation. We all need friends who will stick close, listen, care, and offer help when it is needed—in good times and bad. It is better to have one such friend than dozens of superficial acquaintances. Instead of wishing you could find a true friend, seek to become one. There are people who need your friendship. Ask God to reveal them to you, and then take on the challenge of being a true friend. (NLT)
Proverbs 18:24 – There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.
* Believers become friends of God
Paul states that, as believers, we now stand in a place of highest privilege. Not only has God declared us not guilty, he has drawn us close to himself. Instead of being enemies, we have become his friends—in fact, his own children. (NLT)
Romans 5:2 – Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
* Broken friendships can harm our relationship with God
Broken relationships can hinder our relationship with God. If we have a problem or grievance with a friend, we should resolve the problem as soon as possible. We are hypocrites if we claim to love God while we hate others. Our attitudes toward others reflect our relationship with God. (NLT)
Matthew 5:23-24 – [Jesus said] “So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.
* Befriending those who hurt you
In this day of lawsuits and incessant demands for legal rights, Paul’s command sounds almost impossible. When someone hurts you deeply, instead of giving him what he deserves, Paul says to befriend hi. Why does Paul tell us to forgive our enemies? (1) Forgiveness may break a cycle of retaliation and lead to mutual reconciliation. (2) It may make the enemy feel ashamed and change his or her ways. (3) By contrast, repaying evil for evil hurts you just as much as it hurts your enemy. Even if your enemy never repents, forgiving hi or her will free you of a heavy load of bitterness. (NLT)
Romans 12:19-21 – Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord. Instead, do what the Scriptures say: “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.” Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.
* Dealing with a possible conflict between friends
Because Paul was an elder and an apostle, he could have used his authority with Philemon, commanding him to deal kindly with his runaway slave. But Paul based his request not on his own authority but on Philemon’s Christian commitment. Paul wanted Philemon’s heartfelt, not grudging, obedience. When you know something is right and you have the power to demand it, do you appeal to your authority or to the other person’s commitment? Here Paul provides a good example of how to deal with a possible conflict between Christian friends. (NLT)
Philemon 1:8-9 – That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do, but because of our love, I prefer just to ask you. So take this as a request from your friend Paul, an old man, now in prison for the sake of Christ Jesus.
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