Sunday, June 22, 2014

The value of having a good friend

After her last remaining friend died, I can remember my 89 year old grandmother saying to me, "All my friends are gone." I was just a child then, maybe no more than eight or nine years old, but I somehow sensed the significance of her statement as well as the sadness it caused her. Instinctively, I took hold of her hand, looked up at her and said, "Don't worry grandma, you'll always have me." Unfortunately, I lost my grandmother later that same year.

Friends serve an important purpose in our lives. The popular song, "That's What Friends Are For," celebrates friendship as something that endures in good times and bad with a kind of through thick and thin attitude that makes it both durable and dependable. Would it surprise you to know that having friends is good not just for the social benefits, but they are also good for your health. An Australian research study found that people with a large network of friends, who exert a positive influence on their lives, live longer than those with fewer or no friends.

Having a positive influence in your life is key. Most people tend to choose friends for the qualities that mesh well with their own. For example, someone who enjoys a quiet, peaceable, law abiding lifestyle would not pair well with someone who's a raucous, hard-drinking, social misfit unless he, too, wants to go down that road. It's a proven fact that the company you keep has a huge influence on you:
Do not be fooled. Bad companions ruin good character. -- 1 Corinthians 15:33
How many parents have preached that sermon to their children, only to have those children later admit, "If I'd only have listened to my parents."

Might not be such a bad idea to do a  friendship audit to access the nature and quality of your own friendships or lack thereof. Is your current friend status providing what you need to be the best person you can be? Do your friends exert a positive and stable influence on your life?  Are your friendships mutually satisfying and rewarding? Are you able to be honest, open and vulnerable with your friends and still be accepted? These qualities are meant to be reciprocal, of course.

Makes you wonder if the world would be a better place, a safer place, a more socially responsible place, and so on, if the practice of nurturing quality friendships was given more of a priority in our lives. In his book, Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without, author Tom Rath says:
 If you ask people why they became homeless, why their marriage failed or why they overeat, they often say it is because of the poor quality, or nonexistence, of friendships. They feel outcast or unloved.
Likewise, the philosopher Aristotle had this to say about the importance of friendship:
In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.
The whole idea of having friends originated with God, who said: "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness..." The first friendship ever recorded in human history was between God and the first man, Adam. Think about it. Adam was a friend of God. Not only did Adam have God's ear, he also had his trust. But we know from reading the Biblical account that friendship was broken when Adam sinned.

When a valued friendship goes awry, most people are willing to do whatever it takes to restore it. Well, God is no different. From the moment Adam sinned, God already had a plan in place to restore his friendship with mankind. It took God coming down to earth in the person of Jesus Christ and dying on the cross in full payment not only for Adam's sin, but for those of all future generations.
Christ himself carried our sins in his body to the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. It is by his wounds that you have been healed. -- 1 Peter 2:24 NLT 
 God wants to be friends with you again. There's no better friend you could have in your life. why not accept His offer today. Pray like this:

Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you into my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior. I want us to be friends again. Amen.

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