Saturday, May 4, 2013

5 Friends, 4 Friends, Your Friends, My Friends

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Jim Rohn

Over the years I have posted a number of articles on the importance of who we bring into your lives. It isn’t just about money. We can choose to spend time with people who will challenge and encourage us to move on or we can choose to spend time with people who will tell us what we can’t accomplish because the deck is stacked against us. Are your friends helping you make wise decisions as you move towards your destiny? Are they by word and example pushing you past old limiting beliefs? Or are they holding you back, envious and fearful that perhaps you will go beyond everything they have accomplished in their miserable lives.

Jesus gave a pretty harsh warning about the kind of people we let into our lives, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” Have you ever opened your heart to a friend, sharing your dreams and your visions only to have them tell you what can not be done? This is deadly when it comes to bettering your financial situation. Jealousy is quick to rear its head when you begin to move towards financial freedom.

We all are burdened with problems that weigh us down, that drag us towards defeat. There are times when I need some sympathy and encouragement because I am carrying a heavy load. I am glad when there is a friend there to share his energy in my hour of need. I have a true friend who seems especially gifted at kicking me in the butt when I am wallowing in self pity. As it is written, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

If the time you spend with one another is benefiting neither you nor your friend, you must ask the question, “Do we make each other better people?” If the answer is no it may be time to move on, but don’t be too quick to pull the trigger. We are called to serve in different roles with different friends.

In the presence of a true friend we are allowed to have a bad day or act like a fool. We will allow them the same opportunity to stumble and fall. The Bible puts it like this, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Iron rubbing on iron is not a pleasant image or sound, but as true friends interact with one another they both grow.

For the past few years I have been moving on in my life. I am learning that there will be friends who can no longer hear me or see me. This grieves me deeply. I don’t know what to do but move on. Upon reflection I have concluded that in past times when I experienced a major life transformation, some of my friends fell away from me like leaves fall from a tree in autumn. At first they continued to cling, but without effort most of these relationships ultimately floated away, succumbing naturally to the wind and the rain. I can think of only two such friendships that were ended with any effort on my part. I will not speak of this. I only hope it will never happen again.

Different kinds of friends enter and leave our life. Two examples from scripture are the four friends who tore the roof off a house in an effort to lower their sick buddy into the Master’s presence. These are friends who are a constant part of our life over many years. We all have friends who have covered our back on many occasions. Usually, there are not many of these friends who meet the definition given in Ecclesiasticus, “A faithful friend is the medicine of life; and they that fear the Lord shall find him,” but thankfully they are there when we need them.

A second kind of friend is covered in the parable of the Good Samaritan, someone who enters our life at a critical juncture, steering us in the right direction at the right time or perhaps even saving our life. Yes, sometimes a total stranger will cover your back when you are most in need.

Just for today, go out there and be a friend. In the end, I have learned the spiritual calculus of friendship has nothing to do with double entry bookkeeping, for sometimes in giving we receive more from a friendship than we could possibly imagine.

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