The world we live in is a large and wonderful place. We have an estimated 7 billion people living on the earth today. You would think that with that many people one could never be lonely. However, loneliness is a chronic problem. It exists both in the world, and in our churches. Loneliness is an emotion; a feeling of isolation and separation from the rest of the world. Part of God’s design for you was the need for companionship. He created you with the desire for friends. He created you to have friends!
Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that two are better than one. Why? If either one of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. This is a model of true friendship. As you begin to walk out your purpose in life, fulfilling the call of God in your life, you will find that you were not meant to do it alone. You were meant to do it with the help of God and with the help of others. Others? Yes, others. You are a part of one body.
As you will see from the scriptures to follow, it was God’s design for you to walk in relationship. For success, we must heed the warning that Solomon gave regarding not having anyone to lift us up when we fall.
But who should that person be? Who should be there to lift us up when we fall? Who should be the person that shares in the work? Who should we have as friends? Likewise, whose friend should you be?
Let’s look at a few character traits of a true friend.
“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” Amos 3:3 NKJV
This question was given in the context of a warning of impending judgment upon Israel. This was a rhetorical question that was asked by God. In Amos chapter three, God was letting Israel know the seriousness of the judgment that was coming upon them because they chose to let sin reign in their hearts. They let sin come between them and their relationship with God.
Broken fellowship is when there is disunity; there is no longer a partnership or a sense of participation in which two people share commonality. God was telling the children of Israel and is telling us today that we cannot walk together with Him or with others if there is broken fellowship. Broken fellowship separates.
B. Friends are trustworthy.
“A gossip betrays confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13 NIV
This principle of trustworthiness is a deep truth that goes beyond being able to keep a secret that someone shares with you; it goes to the very nature of God. If we have been entrusted with information that is secretive, we must be mature enough not to share the information with others. As scripture states, we would be committing the sin of gossip if we shared it and would betray the confidence of the one whom shared the information with us.
In this verse, trustworthy means faithful in spirit. The word in the Hebrew is ‘aman. It means to support, confirm, to be faithful, uphold, nourish. It also means pillars, supporters of the door, be carried, to trust and to be certain.
Solomon is giving us a two-fold principle in this verse. The first is that we need to be careful about who we share our secrets with. The person we share our secrets with should be one that we have fellowship and unity with. That person should demonstrate what it means to be faithful in spirit. The second is, if we desire to have such a person, we should demonstrate those same characteristics. We need to be able to nourish and uphold others.
C. Friends love at all times.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born out of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 NASB
Love is one of the most misunderstood words in any language. It means so many things to so many people. It is important that we take our meaning not from our culture or what we think it means, but from God and His word. God is the true example of what love is. He is love and He chose to love us, despite our circumstances.
True friendship has no respect for circumstances. Friendship is not governed by circumstance, but relationship. A true friend will not love just because it is convenient, but because they genuinely care for the individual in good times and bad.
Brotherhood is one of the most endearing forms of friendship. Solomon says that through adversity a friend becomes a brother. This is so true. The closest friends are often those that have been there through the difficult situations; when you have been in your deepest need.
D. Slow to Anger.
“Make no friendship with an angry man.” Proverbs 22:24a NKJV
Why are there so many warnings about who we should have as friends? Who we should and should not associate with? You become most like those you have relationships with. Those that are around you have influence on your actions and the same applies to those you are around, you have influence on them.
This is most evident in your relationship with Christ. If you spend time with Him and fellowship with Him, you will find that you become more like Him. The same principle applies for your relationships here on earth.
“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” Proverbs 13:20 NIV
One thing that God detests is strife. God desires that His people be in unity, not strife, which is the outcome of anger. Strife will damage goodwill and trust. Strife will hamper progress toward goals and cause you to become self-centered. Guard yourself against relationships that would influence you in a way that is contrary to God and His word.
E. Men and Women of the Word.
“Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 NASB
Sharpening is a process that is difficult, time-consuming, and takes a lot of effort. The word of God in the hands of a true friend is the honing stone that is used to make us sharper.
“and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” Ephesians 5:21 NASB
Each of us should have someone who we are accountable to. Someone that we can share our trials and struggles with. This is harder to do as men. We do not like to be vulnerable. To open up to someone, especially another man, goes against what our culture would say and is contrary to how many of us were raised. We have been deceived into thinking that this is a sign of weakness. In reality, it’s a sign of great strength.
The term “be subject to one another” has a two-fold meaning. As a military term, it means to arrange the troops in a military fashion under a leader. As a non-military term, it means cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.
Not only should we make ourselves accountable to leadership that God has placed over us, we should make ourselves accountable to other men so that we can cooperate and help to carry burdens.
This is a delicate aspect of friendship. We should have someone we are accountable to, but we must use great wisdom in whom we chose. Those that you choose to have relationship with and accountability with should possess the traits that we have outlined: like-mindedness, trustworthiness, a loving heart, slow to anger, men and women of the Word, and should have the same desire as you to be accountable.
Friendship is the bridge between lonely and loved, between a glance and a gaze. It stretches from the fog into sunshine, hopelessness into faith, between despair and joy. It crosses the chasm from hell and to heaven, from God to man, and from you to me. ~~unknown
As these are all qualities that we strive to find in our friends, we also should be striving to have these qualities. Friendship is a two-way street. We need to have friends, and we are called to be a friend!
In the world today, there is great confusion, instability, fear and uncertainty in the hearts of men. There is an immorality epidemic, social injustices, and an economic crisis’ worldwide—not regulated to the US alone—seen at levels of catastrophic proportion. Bankruptcy and unemployment—uncommon words now made common—are inevitable based on current circumstances. Companies that were deemed bedrocks—foundational to our countries survival—are now crumbling under tremendous pressure causing a gripping reality of the year to come. In addition, there has been an all out attack on our generations at the core of who they are—function and purpose—a shaking at the generational foundations with the results being what they are today made evident with the current conditions of our nation with the hope of tomorrow in the hands of what circumstance would bring. Amidst all of the despair and discouragement, where is the Church?
This confusion, instability, fear and uncertainty must not be allowed to be the gripping reality for the Church and the people of God.
This is not the will of God. God has called us to live a life of purpose that is beyond circumstance. No matter what the media would portray, no matter what the world’s economy looks like, no matter the circumstances, It is a life that is contrary to what popular culture and present circumstance would tell you. God has called you to live a life of purpose!
What role do values play and what do values have to do with the current state of affairs in our nation. I say that it has everything to do with it. Every institution, movement, society and culture has been built upon a value system—a set of values, standards and convictions—whether good or bad. Values, standards and convictions shape and mold character, action and thought. The life and effect of an institution, movement, society and culture are in direct relation to its values, standards and convictions.
The life and effect of an institution, movement, society and culture are in direct relation to its values, standards and convictions.
We are living within a culture that the very nature is due to the fallen state of man. It is a culture, no matter the society, that demands conformance unto itself.
Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
This conformance is dictated to the members of the culture through external forces or influences within the culture that attempt to produce a shift in your value system—making your values, standards and convictions relative, or changeable. These forces or influences include music, media, internet, TV, video games, movies, radio, fads, and fashions.
It is critical to understand that culture through its demand to conform is defining rather than being defined. Through this process has become a living, moving, always changing organism operating separately and independently with an agenda that is in direct confrontation—though subtle at times—with the purposes of God for His Church and for His people.
If successful, this shift in values will create a shift in purpose. Purpose is defined as:
- The object toward which one strives or for which something exists;
- A result or effect that is intended or desired; an intention.
Satan knows that: intended, created purpose=power. Use some examples like a guitar, piano or car. At the core of who we are is purpose. This is the one question that everyone ask at some point in their life and for some this is a lifelong quest ending up no further than where they started. Searching for the answer to why am I here? But purpose is the key. Not only purpose, but we must know the source of our purpose. Purpose governs values, standards and convictions. Everyone was created with a purpose! Rick Warren writes in “The Purpose Driven Life”:
Knowing your purpose gives meaning to your life.
We were made to have meaning. This is why people try dubious methods, like astrology or psychics, to discover it. When life has meaning, you can bear almost anything; without meaning, nothing is bearable. Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope. In the Bible, many different people expressed this hopelessness.
Isaiah complained, “I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.” Job said, “My life drags by—day after hopeless day” and “I give up; I am tired of living. Leave me alone. My life makes no sense.” The greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose.”
The scriptures tell us,
“Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,” 2 Timothy 1:9
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
“God made everything with a place and purpose” Proverbs 16:4a
Jesus: Man of Purpose.
Jesus was a man of purpose. Everything He did was to achieve that purpose. He was driven, focused, and did not allow anything to deter Him from accomplishing that which He was purposed to do. He was all about purpose.
At the age of 12, Jesus responds to a distraught mother after He had been missing from His parents for about 3+ days in Luke 2:49 “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” As Jesus began His ministry, He was tempted by Satan. He would not allow Satan to stop him from achieving His purpose. Luke 4:1-13
As his popularity went out and the crowds came, He would not allow the crowds to stop him from achieving His purpose. Luke 4:43 “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.”
So if Jesus was all about accomplishing His purpose, what was His purpose? We find His purpose in Luke 4:18-19.
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
Read Luke 5:1-11. God is saying Launch out into the Deep. Growth happens when you are out of your comfort zone. The following seven points are taken from this passage.
- Jesus used a natural act to demonstrate a spiritual concept.
- When Jesus calls the disciples, he identifies their purpose with His purpose.
- The Word went forth and demanded a response.
- Obedience was the premise to the promise of a catch.
- It was against logic, contrary to conditions and circumstances.
- Jesus called them where they were.
- To fulfill your purpose, it will require teamwork.
Get out of your comfort zone. Move away from the shore. Launch out into the Deep with Faith and Purpose!
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15 NKJV
1. Is the Lord well pleased?
If you want to impact your generation you need to have a passion to please the Lord which is crucial to advancement and success.
“His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’” Matthew 25:23
Well done means done with excellence. All we do should be done with excellence. Excellence means superior, of the highest quality. Someone who compromises never has respect.
2. Is the Work well done?
Is there a passion to do the work with excellence? Workman are not to be ashamed. Always be worth more than your getting. Are you doing something with your whole heart. Doing something half-hearted is settling for mediocrity.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,” Colossians 3:23
3. Is the Word well used?
Is there a passion for the truth? Know. Experience. Share. We are to serve the church; the people not the building.
“Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43-45
“But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” 1 Corinthians 12:18
4. Are the People well served?
Do you have a passion to serve? One thing David had was a heart and a love for the the House of God.
One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
Action, not words are the keys to impacting your generation. What you do, do unto the Lord and please Him. Do the work with excellence. Have a passion for the truth; the Word of God. Lastly, have a love for the people and serve them. That will truly impact a generation!
Paul writes in Ephesians 4:16:
“from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
You and I are the joint that Paul refers to. Each of us have an important part to play. For us to achieve what God has for the Church corporately and for us individually, unity is required. This scripture gives us three areas that we are called to have unity in. They are:
What every joint supplies.
“Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” 2 Timothy 1:9 NKJV
Which every part does its share.
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,” Ephesians 4:1 NASB
Growth of the body for the edifying of itself (Building the Church)
“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Proverbs 29:18
We need to have God’s Vision! See it from His perspective!
Elisha’s servant got up early, and when he went out, he saw an army with horses and chariots all around the city. The servant said to Elisha, “Oh, my master, what can we do?” Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid. The army that fights for us is larger than the one against us.” Then Elisha prayed, “Lord, open my servant’s eyes, and let him see.” The Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw that the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15–17
Your specific unique calling is not just for you, it is meant for God’s greater purpose. You are a part of something that is bigger than yourselves, and you have a function that was only meant for you.
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” Romans 12:4-5 NKJV
Each tool is created for a specific purpose. For example, a hammer was meant to hit nails. A wrench was made to turn nuts and bolts. A hammer makes a terrible wrench. A wrench makes a terrible hammer. For the tools to reach their full potential they must be used for the purpose for which they were created. Together they make up a toolbox.
So it is with the body of Christ. The body is made up of individual parts, you and I, and we each have our different function. Feet were created for walking. Our tongues were created for talking. The tongue would make a terrible foot. Therefore, we are each to be the tool or body part that we were created to be. When we function in that purpose, we can be as God intended. The benefits will not only be fulfillment to us, but to the whole body of Christ.
Why is Unity so important?
Genesis 11:6 The Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.”
With unity nothing is impossible. It reminds me of a quote that says “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them,” Romans 12:6a NKJV
God has given each of us different gifts. Romans continues on to say that if you have the gift of teaching, teach. If you have the gift of generosity, give. So it is with all of our gifts, we must use them!
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” Ephesians 4:11-12 NASB
This scripture identifies two different groups of people with different callings but one purpose: those called to equip, and those called to be equipped for the works of service. Each of us fit into one of these two groups. Neither function is more important than the other, but they are interdependent on one another. The body needs all of its components functioning together for the one common purpose, the building up of the body of Christ.
Its all about the people and bringing the people to Christ! We need to have the big picture, the bigger vision! Change our perception and begin serving with a spirit of unity!