I Need a Friend, Part 3
Ruth 1:16-18 “But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.”
Friend to Friend
Friendship is the catalyst for every other love and the foundation of every healthy relationship. God created us to need each other. We need friends and we need to be a friend – even as women in ministry. Over the next few weeks, we will uncover nine keys to healthy friendships.
Key one: Time
Key two: Risk
Key three: Transparency
Key four: Touch
Women are such emotional critters! I can almost see Naomi and Ruth hugging each other or taking each other’s hand as their friendship was forged through love, sorrow, pain and loss. The earthly ministry of Jesus constantly demonstrated the power of love poured out through His touch. The touch of Jesus brought healing to the sick, sight to the blind and life to the dead. In Matthew, He stretched out his hand and touched the leper. (Matthew 8:3) Mark tells us that Jesus took the children in His arms. (Mark 10:16) I am always amazed that even though Jesus could have healed the blind and sick with just a word, a breath, a glance or even a thought, He often chose to touch the broken ones in order to make them whole. Physical touch is a powerful communicator of love.
A group of medical students, training in the children’s ward of a large metropolitan hospital, learned the power of touch in an unusual way. Day after day, the eager students made their rounds together, all of them visiting the same children, performing the same routine medical procedures. However, it soon became obvious to all that one particular medical student was especially loved by the children. Whenever he walked into the ward, the face of each child lit up. The medical students did not understand why the kids seemed to love this particular student more. Curious, they decided to follow their co-worker, hoping to learn his secret. They did. Every night, when he made his last rounds, this beloved young student kissed each child good-night and tucked them into bed. In Ephesians 2:14, Paul talks about “breaking down the walls that divide us”. Many times, the best way to break down emotional walls is to reach out, in God’s love, and offer the healing touch of a pat on a weary back, a quick hug for a lonely heart, or an encouraging hand on a burdened and bent shoulder.
Sidebar: Let me also be honest and open at this point. Rarely a week goes by that my husband and I don’t hear of a marriage, family and ministry destroyed because of an affair. That affair began with one inappropriate thought that led to one inappropriate touch. Make no mistake, friend. The enemy wants to destroy you, your family, your home and the ministry to which God has called you. You can be certain he will attempt to do so – any way that he possibly can. When he does manage to derail a man or woman in ministry, he dances on the ashes of the fallen ones and the Father weeps. This is where correction comes in. Along with the command to demonstrate the love of God in friendships, comes the responsibility of loving accountability and correction.
Key five: Correction
Naomi told Ruth to return to her home land, but Ruth refused to go. Instead, she confronted and corrected her mother-in-law. A brave woman! The results were dramatic! “When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.” Godly friendships have the element of correction. Correction brings authenticity and health to every relationship in life – especially friendships. A true friend puts your good above the risk of anger or rejection. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Proverbs 27:6) The “wound” is the correction or confrontation for the good of a friend.
Silence is agreement and just as dangerous as holding a friend’s hand as he or she walks toward the edge of a steep, deadly cliff. When a warning bell goes off in your mind, when you have a question in your spirit about any part of a friend’s life, you are called to confront that friend in love. Failure to do so may very well result in their destruction.
When I married into the Southerland family, I didn’t know that tent camping was part of the deal. I might have reconsidered (just kidding). I decided that I could learn to camp and maybe even enjoy it! My first trip to
Confrontation “reels in” that friend who is flirting with sin and headed straight into the hellish plans of Satan himself. I know that confrontation is difficult at best. But the reality is that anyone who actually enjoys confrontation and correction is probably doing it for the wrong reason and with an ungodly heart attitude, because the eternal, bottom line of God’s heart is to restore the broken. A loving touch and Godly correction are powerful friendship keys.
Father, I confess that I often fail when it comes to being a true friend. Help me to be more aware of the opportunity to reach out and make a friend. Teach me how to nurture that friendship through healthy confrontation and a loving touch. May the friendships in my life honor and please you. Amen.
Now it's Your Turn
- I encourage you to scrutinize your friendships under the light of Godly love and correction.
- How do they measure up?
- Are you quick to be a vessel through which God can pour out His love through an encouraging touch?
- Have you been silent, refusing to correct a friend because it was the easiest thing to do?
- I have been guilty of taking the easy way out when it comes to friendship. I want to be a better friend. Join me in a new commitment to friendship – God’s way.
For more on today’s topic, seeSandpaper People, a book by Mary Southerland.
Girlfriends in God, Inc.
Originally published Monday, 02 October 2006.