Monday, February 04, 2008

Are You A Godly Friend?

by Stephen Altrogge @

There's a bumper sticker that says "Friends don't let friends buy Starbucks". Let me just say from the outset that I consider this to be utter nonsense, equivalent to giving Keanu Reeves an Oscar. If you are my friend you will buy me Starbucks. You don't need to buy me anything fancy, like a half-caf, double-soy, triple shot latte - just a cup of coffee. Friends do let friends buy Starbucks.

Unfortunately I can't back this statement up from scripture, much as I want to. But the Bible is very clear about what friends should do for each other. In scripture we find a clear picture of what it means to be a godly friend. So this week we're going to try to answer the question, "What is a godly friend?" By God's grace, our fellowship will deepen and our friendships will honor the Lord.

Friends Encourage One Another
Today we're going to look at just one aspect of godly friendships - encouragement. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." The point of this passage is pretty simple. A godly friend is one who encourages others.

I find it much easier to criticize people than encourage them. In my sinful pride, I criticize far more than I encourage. This is our natural, sinful tendency, and our culture only encourages this tendency. Have you ever noticed how many "critics" there are? We have movie critics, food critics, wine critics, sports critics, and politics critics. When was the last time you heard of a "movie encourager"? The sad fact is, we love to criticize others.

But scripture makes it clear that a godly friend is one who encourages others. We're told that our speech should build others up, and give grace to those who hear. Ponder this truth with me for a minute. Our words can be used by God to impart supernatural grace to others. Our words can be used by God to build someone up in their faith. The words that we speak are immensely significant. They can either corrupt or build up. We must speak words that build others up. We must encourage.

What does it look like to encourage others? Speech that builds others up is speech that highlights where God is at work. In other words, to encourage others is to point out the fruit of the spirit in others. It's to encourage John, who humbly serves in children's ministry week after week, or Carol, who joyfully cares for her aging mother. It's to encourage your wife when she is patient with your son, even after he pounded 117 nails into the coffee table. To encourage is to highlight the fruit of the Spirit in someone.

Are you a godly friend? Do you encourage others? When was the last time you encouraged someone? This is an area I desperately need to grow in. By God's grace, let us resolve to encourage someone today.

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