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By LISA SCARBOROUGH
I have been reading through the book of Job for my devotions this week. When calamity came upon Job through Satan’s testing Job’s faithfulness to the Lord, his friends pretty much jumped to the conclusion that he had great sin in his life and God was punishing him for it.
The Word has some things to say about being a good friend, things like encouraging others in their time with the Lord, being supportive when confidences are shared — and the most challenging of all, being willing to sacrifice yourself for one another.
In the following scriptures friendship is described. We are to:
• “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2. This is where we need to be the supportive friend when people we know are going through difficult times and life seems too hard to fight for. Here we are encouraged to be gentle and willing to help carry the burdens. Most of the time this means just being a good listener. Many times our friends are not looking for us to solve the problems, they are just needing a sounding board.
• “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11. This scripture is needed when we are so hard on ourselves or when life has beat us down so much that we find it hard to carry on. Paul is saying that we need to be willing to speak those Godly words of value, worthiness and grace so that we are encouraged to move on.
• “... But encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25b. Each day we should be living as if Jesus will return. But the worries of life, the daily grind of work, shopping and just living wears us down, so as friends it is important to remind each other to live each day with praise for the Lord on our lips and his words in our heart. That we not forget how much he loves us and wants to hear from us each day.
• “Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:12b-13. In this passage as Jesus was wrapping up his teaching with the disciples, he tells them that they need to love each other. This is the way that others will know they were with him. This is the way that people around us should know we are Christians, because we love one another. The ultimate sacrifice in life would be to lay down your life for one you love whether family or friend.
I have been going through some hard times over the past four months. Life has been changing and challenging. But I have awesome friends! Friends who have listened to me as I work my way through the emotions I have been going through. They have encouraged me through words and deeds.
We all have friends with different personalities right? Some will just let you talk without giving advice; they are the humble and gentle ones who are your comforters. Others are more challenging; they are not willing to let you settle for where you are but will ask you to look at yourself, examine what you can do to improve your situation, encourage you to make changes and rise to the occasion.
We need friends of all different personalities and traits so that we don’t wallow in our self pity or hurt, but rise up and grasp the help that is there through friendship. I hope that you have wonderful friends in your life like I do. And I hope you are a wonderful friend.
That is my prayer for myself, that I be a wonderful, encouraging, supportive and challenging friend to those around me. Jesus wants us to be there for each other in many different ways, but most of all to show his love to one another.
Lisa Scarborough is executive director of Love In Action, Ketchikan.
Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.