Hope that last week was great for all of you. I was at a church Youth Conference last week. I had such a great time and came away so refreshed and inspired (despite the camping and a severe lack of sleep!) Like I mentioned in my previous post, we were studying Thessalonians. There are so many great lessons in Thessalonians and I would encourage everyone to go read it right now! However, I am going to write about something that I have been thinking a lot about lately and GUESS WHAT? It happens to also show up in Thessalonians! What is it, you may ask? Friendship!
I will start off by saying that I am no great expert on friendship. In fact, I happen to have an extremely hard time making friends and an even harder time keeping those friends. I tend to shut down and not let people in because when you let people in, you can get hurt! But that is certainly not a good attitude and is definitely not scriptural. The apostle Paul can sure teach us a thing about friendship in his letters to the Thessalonians.
“We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers (1 Thess. 1:2).”
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us (1 Thess. 2:8).”
“How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you (1 Thess. 3:9)?”
These verses are just a few of the verses where Paul speaks about his love for his brothers and sisters in this church. He rejoices in their friendship. He says that he is thankful for ALL of them. I think it is such a great example for us, because so often we only make an effort to be friends with the people who are in our little groups—just the cool people, or the people who are our age, or the people who are similar to us. But Paul wasn’t like that. Likewise, I think we really need to make an effort to go out of our way to care about EVERYONE, instead of leaving out the people who actually need us the most. We have all felt friendless and lonely at some time or another, so let’s not stand by while others suffer the same.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (1 Thess. 5:11).”
Paul also commends the Thessalonians for building each other up, but are we doing this? Do we encourage others, or are our friendships merely superficial? As followers of Christ, the way we treat others and care for others should set us apart from those who don’t follow Jesus. We should be getting out there and stepping out of our comfort zone to reach people who need us.
Lastly, I would like to briefly remind you of the wonderful example of the friendship of David and Jonathan. Jonathan cared so deeply for David, despite the fact that David’s anointing meant that Jonathan would not be king. Jonathan was even willing to stand up against his own father in order to protect David. 1 Samuel 20:17 reads:
“And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.”
Do we truly love our friends as we love ourselves? If not, why not? I am going to take these thoughts to heart and make an effort to build others up, to care about my friends, and to step out of my comfort zone. I hope that you will join me!