Music can be an incredible agent for change within our hearts and souls. Music can inspire feelings of joy and also bring tears to our eyes. And every once in a while, I encounter a song with lyrics that just say KA-POW!
We talk a lot about loving others here at Changing the Face of Christianity…and for good reason. Truly loving others is the cure for many of the negative stereotypes we seek to reverse.
My Senior Pastor and friend George Feiser, at LifePoint Church in Plano, TX recently gave a sermon on friendship which does an incredible job of laying out the biblical basics of loving others…being a true friend. I’ve included the message outline below. As you read it, answer the questions and ponder how well you demonstrate true friendship to those around you.
“In Christ we who are many form one Body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Rom. 12:5 (NIV)
“I am writing these things to you… so you will know how to live in the family of God. That family is the church of the living God, the support and foundation of the truth.” 1 Tim. 3:14-15 (NCV)
THE TEN BUILDING BLOCKS OF REAL FRIENDSHIPS
1. FRIENDSHIP IS BUILT ON – Frequency
“Let us not give up the habit of meeting together. Instead, let us encourage one another…” Heb. 10:25 (GN)
“They worshipped together regularly at the Temple each day, met in small groups in homes for communion, and shared their meals with great joy.” Acts 2:46 (LB)
“… enjoy the companionship of those who love the Lord…” 2 Tim. 2:22 (LB)
Rate your Friendships on Frequency: (Weak) 1-2-3-4-5 (Strong)
Personal: What is keeping me from meeting more consistently?
2. FRIENDSHIP IS BUILT ON – Authenticity
“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it.” Rom. 12:9a (Mes)
“If we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other… (But) if we claim we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:7-8 (NCV)
“Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed…” James 5:16 (LB)
“The word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.” Heb. 4:12 (NLT)
Rate your Friendships on Authenticity: (Weak) 1-2-3-4-5 (Strong)
Personal: What encourages me to be open and what holds me back in my friendships?
3. FRIENDSHIP IS BUILT ON – Maturity
“I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.” Rom. 1:12 (NCV)
“Keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes.” Heb. 3:13 (Mes)
“If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble.” Eccl. 4:10 (NLT)
“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Heb. 10:24 (NIV)
“Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups…” 2 Cor. 13:5 (Mes)
“(Speak) only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Eph. 4:29 (NIV)
“Encourage anyone who feels left out, help all who are weak, and be patient with everyone.” 1 Th. 5:14b (CEV)
“Take delight in honoring each other.” Rom. 12:10b (NLT)
Rate your Friendships on Mutuality: (Weak) 1-2-3-4-5 (Strong)
Personal: Where could I use the most support in my spiritual growth?
4. FRIENDSHIP IS BUILT ON – Courtesy
“Believers shouldn’t curse anyone or be quarrelsome, but they should be gentle and show courtesy to everyone.” Titus 3:2 (GW)
“Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family…” 1 Peter 2:17 (Mes)
“Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other.” Rom. 12:10 (GW)
“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.” Rom. 14:1 (Mes)
“We must bear the “burden” of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others…” Rom 15:2a (LB)
Rate your Friendships on Courtesy: (Weak) 1-2-3-4-5 (Strong)
Personal: Who do I need to show more love and respect to with my friends?
5. FRIENDSHIP IS BUILT ON – Sympathy
“As holy people whom God has chosen and loved, be sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle, and patient.” Col. 3:12 (GW)
“If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it.” 1 Cor. 12:26a (GN)
“Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.” Rom. 12:15 (Mes)
“Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Gal. 6:2 (NLT)
“We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak to carry their burdens.” Rom 15:1 (GN))
“Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith.” Jude 1:22 (Mes)
“A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” Job 6:14 (NIV)
Rate your Friendships on Sympathy: (Weak) 1-2-3-4-5 (Strong)
Personal: Who has supported me when I needed it? How did they do it?
6. FRIENDSHIP IS BUILT ON – Humility
“…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…” 1 Peter 5:5 (NIV)
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t try to act important but enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” Rom. 12:16 (NLT)
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6b (NIV)
“Always be humble, gentle, and patient, accepting each other in love.” Eph. 4:2 (NCV)
“When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.” Phil 2:3-4 (NCV)
Why do you look at the speck in another’s eye, and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will be able to see and take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matt. 7:3 (GN)
“He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.” Pr. 15:31 (NIV)
Rate your Friendships on Humility/Acceptance: (Weak) 1-2-3-4-5 (Strong)
Personal: What weakness in yourself do you find hard to accept in others?
7. FREINDSHIP IS BUILT ON – Honesty
“Speak the truth in a spirit of love.” Eph. 4:15 (GN)
“An honest answer is a sign of true friendship.” Pr. 24:26 (GN)
“In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery.” Proverbs 28:23 (NLT)
“There is a right time and a right way to do everything.” Eccl. 8:6 (GN)
“Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal.” Pr. 12:18 (GN)
“Never use harsh wordswhen you correct an older man, but talk to him as if he were your father. Talk to younger men as if they were your brothers, older women as if they were your mothers and younger women as if they were your sisters, while keeping yourself morally pure.” 1 Tim. 5:1-2 (GW)
Rate your Friendships on Honesty/ Speaking the Truth in Love: (Weak) 1-2-3-4-5 (Strong)
Personal: What is going on in my friendship that I need to speak up about? How have I benefited when someone spoke the truth to me?
8. FRIENDSHIP IS BUILT ON – Mercy
“You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Col. 3:13 (NLT)
“Never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Col. 3:13 (LB)
Rate your Friendships on Mercy: (Weak) 1-2-3-4-5 (Strong)
Personal: Who do I need to forgive?
9. FRIENDSHIP IS BUILT ON – Conidentiality
“No one who gossips can be trusted with a secret, but you can put confidence in someone who is trustworthy.” Pr. 11:13 (GN)
“Gossip is no good! It causes hard feelings and comes between friends.” Pr. 16:28 (CEV)
“A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.” Pr 16:28 (NLT)
“Troublemakers listen to troublemakers, and liars listen to liars.” Pr. 17:4 (CEV)
“If anyone is causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with that person.” Titus 3:10 (NLT)
Rate your Friendships on Confidentiality: (Weak) 1-2-3-4-5 (Strong)
Personal: How have I been hurt when someone didn’t keep a confidence?
10. FRIENDSHIP IS BUILT ON – Unity (of Purpose)
“Let there be real harmony so there won’t be divisions in the church… be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” 1 Cor. 1:10 (NLT)
Rate your Friendships on Unity of Purpose (Weak) 1-2-3-4-5 (Strong)
Personal: Which of the 5 purpose do I need to work on most?
Luke 17:3-4. “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
The message: don’t hold grudges. Forgive quickly. For our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, rebuke if one of us sins, but be ready to forgive if they show a true repentant heart. And even if they don’t, forgive them anyway.
Luke 9:23 (NIV)
23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.“
We are called to deny ourselves and “take up our cross”. What does that look like? What is the practical application?
It means I’m following Christ proactively and intentionally and suffering whatever consequences there might be in this world.
When we deny ourselves (emptying ourselves and allowing Christ to take up residence inside us), we do not lose our identity. We instead lose our self-centeredness. This is a good thing. Think of all the relational problems we encounter each day. Every one of them (in my opinion) is caused by being self-centered, instead of focusing on loving and serving others.
Holding Up The Mirror
So how well do we do at denying ourselves and truly living with Christ as the top purpose and passion of our lives? When thinking about the next thing to buy, do we buy things that God values (clothes for the poor, food for the hungry), or do we buy things that WE value? How about when making an important decision about a job or in picking a mate, do we consider what Christ would have us do, or do we focus on what WE think is best?
I’m sure there are some of you that would score highly on this. If you are one of them, then you are truly a blessing and witness of what Christ can do in our lives. I’m also sure there is an overwhelming majority of us that would fail miserably. Maybe the better question is what direction are you heading in? The goal should be to seek after Christ more and more as we mature in our spirituality. No one starts at the end. So, just take the first step and start inviting Christ to be the center of your life today.
My confession is I too would fail if tested on this. It is far too easy to be a consumer. And many of the things I buy only add to my standard of living, as opposed to offering assistance to someone in poverty.
My prayer for us all is that we practice self-denial and replace our wants with a desire for Jesus Christ.
Be More Like Jesus Christ – Take Up Your Cross Daily
Our mission is to help Christians be more like Jesus Christ. To be more like Jesus Christ, we need to do what he says and follow his pattern of behavior.
Please join us in our mission to Be More Like Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:29 (MSG)
29 “God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.”
We are called to become like Jesus. What does that look like? What is the practical application?
Where is your heart for God and for others?
The real question for me, and for all of us is where is your heart for God and for others? Are we on a journey to mature and transform into Christ-likeness or are we just someone who said an alter call prayer of confession once a long time ago…stagnant and spirit-less.
1 John 3:16-18 (NIV)
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
Holding Up The Mirror
We are called to love others, even give our lives for one another. We are called to help each other in times of need. We are called to act…not just pay lip service to loving others. I know many many good Christians who help others when they are in need. Many Christians are incredibly generous with their time and money. They are living breathing examples of Jesus Christ walking the earth today.
My confession is I often come up short when opportunities to love others presents itself. A beggar is standing next to an entrance. He asks for any change I might have. I say I don’t have any on me. Yet in my car, 10 feet away, I have some change. One day, that change will get put into a bag, accumulated and eventually taken to a bank so I can make a deposit of $7.32. It does me no good, but to a homeless man it may mean a warm cup of coffee on a cold day. A simple gesture of love, and I pass it up. God please forgive me.
When we shower others with love, we literally are the hands and feet and face of Jesus Christ that the world so desperately needs to see.
Be More Like Jesus Christ – Love Others
Our mission is to help Christians be more like Jesus Christ. To be more like Jesus Christ, we need to love others. When we shower others with love, we literally are the hands and feet and face of Jesus Christ that the world so desperately needs to see.
Please join us in our mission to Be More Like Jesus Christ.