We spent a delightful weekend with our friends from back home who came to visit us over the holiday. We once worked together in ministry and still enjoy spending time together as couples. As husbands and wives we have many things in common and as parents we also have many commonalities. As Believers in Christ we share a deep and abiding love for the Savior and we know each other well enough to share our spiritual highs and lows. I share this with you as an illustration of the points I want to make today about friendships and relationships in my ongoing series on single living.
Over the years I have observed that people tend to classify their friendships based on location. We have “work friends,” and “neighborhood friends,” “childhood friends,” “best friends,” “church friends” and so on. There are people I know from my “work friends” group that I would not mix with my “neighborhood friends.” My “church friends” and my “childhood friend” groups also may not be a good mix, but nonetheless, they are all my “friends.”
What is it that draws you to another person and leads to you to form a friendship with them? Sometimes it is a matter of convenience or a social activity; other times it is an alliance that forms out of necessity. The best things that bring people to the point of friendship are those that are found on common ground. Shared interests, shared beliefs, and shared values are what make the strongest bonds between us.
For the Christian that cannot be the only consideration. Scripture warns us to be careful in the friendships we form. For the single person this may require more consideration as they may have no one who can be a discerning voice in their life.
What I have observed is the loneliness that frequently plagues singles creates a vulnerability in them that leads them to befriend people that may bring negative influences into their lives.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NASB)
Now, before you get upset let me say that I am not suggesting you have no unregenerated people in your life. I am suggesting you be very, very careful about doing so.
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership has righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 (NASB)
Something vital for your consideration is that while you can have friendship with unbelievers, you cannot have fellowship with them. There is no fellowship for the Believer outside of Christ which means that your relationships with them should not be the primary ones in your life. In fact, you should not invest the majority of your free time in these friendships but in furthering your relationships with fellow Christians.
It is in these Christ-centered relationships that we are sharpened and grow, change, and mature in our faith. Christian fellowship is food to the heart and soul and will result in the growth of good fruit in your life. If there is little interaction with other Believers there will be little spiritual growth. God has designed us to need each other and to challenge one another.
…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Heb 10:24-25 (NASB)
When un-believers become a person’s primary friends spiritual growth will suffer. It becomes easier and easier to set aside the Bible reading and studies for other pursuits. Worldly things become more important and interesting because the flesh is greedy and is never satisfied with “just a little” of anything!
Don’t be fooled by the thinking that you are spending all this time with them because you intend to evangelize them. If that was your desire, chances are you would have done it already. How much of the Gospel of truth have you shared with them thus far? Has your spiritual life been enhanced or suffered as a result of your involvement with them?
Tough questions and perhaps you are not pleased with your answers as you ponder them. Part of my goal is to continually challenge you, and make you think rather than act on emotions. This is an important topic that warrants further consideration.