Today’s reflection in our Lent Devotional for Women is sort of a follow-up to Friday’s post. I love when the Holy Spirit places something on my heart and then provides reflection material and opportunities.
Growing in friendship with Christ, growing in love, who and what we surround ourselves with, and prayer have all been mentioned in this Lenten devotional. Today we’ll consider friendships or the people we choose to associate with, again.
Friends, unless we are a hermit in the desert, our entire life is spent with and in the presence of others. This fact alone makes a reflection on friendship a worthy topic to consider over and over again.
“Great is the force of evil company to pervert even a godly mind. As the body is infested by pestilential air, so the soul is infected by the contagion of bad company.”
I have seen this played out first hand and it is painful to watch. More than painful, it’s excruciating. To clearly see the enemy, slowly and intentionally working his way in, literally, hell-bent on snatching a soul from the friendship of God.
I’m pulling some questions from Reflections on the Passion as we wander our way through this Lent Devotional for Women. Quickly, there are only a few books I consider, “Grab in case of fire” worthy and this book is definitely on the list. I have read through this book privately, we have read through it as a family, and I have shared my reflections on the meditations here at The Littlest Way for a couple of years.
Now, back to our reflections.
Ask yourself today, and frequently, “Are my friends all of a high type and beyond reproach.”
I looked up some synonyms for reproach and these are a few that stood out to me: disgrace, admonishment, blame, blemish, contempt, disapproval, discredit, reproof, and shame.
And as I mentioned yesterday, who we associate with matters. I used the example of major corporations breaking ties with brand representatives and celebrities who they think may cause a stain on their brand and image.
Large, secular companies understand the value of the personal image and the influence that a person or celebrity has over others. Some corporations don’t wait for admission or proof of guilt before distancing themselves, the risk of association is that strong. Now let’s hold our own associations and friendships up to that standard and see where they fall.
Let’s do a quick “Friend Examen” on our friends and ourselves as friends.
“Do you always give your friends good example?”
Are we a good example to our friends? Pretty simple question but I bet we try to wiggle around it by saying things like, “Well, what do you mean? Like, am I honest? Or do I use good manners?” If we are Christ-followers, Christ imitators, Christians…I mean the whole package. I mean, as the saying goes, “If you were to be arrested as a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
Here’s a simple analogy for you, if your friends stood in a room full of cigarette smoke, they would come out smelling like smoke. When your friends spend time with you, what characteristics do they come away from you with? Now flip that question to consider the characteristics you come away from your friends with.
“Do you profess Christ to your friends or are you sometimes afraid to make the sign of the cross and say grace before and after meals in their presence?”
This question goes right along with the one above. When I see someone who loves Jesus, I mean all in love, I want to know more about them and their relationship with Christ; I am drawn to them!
In the same vein, I do not, in any way, want to interfere or take them away from Jesus. Look at your friendships. How is your friendship with Jesus since you’ve become friends with a particular person or group of people? Have they helped you grow closer to Jesus? Have you helped them? You will both have to answer that question at the final judgment.
When I see someone who is a lukewarm or convenient Christian or doesn’t take their faith seriously, Meh, if they’re not interested in what they sometimes profess to have or Who they profess to love, I’m not interested either.
Christ could have chosen any number of ways to spread the Good News. Remember the story of Him sending the Apostles into the town to find a man with a donkey tied up and tell the man the Master needed it? He could have chosen something along those lines. He could have given us knowledge of someone who was expecting us to show up and tell them we were there on the command of the Master.
It would have been a lot safer for us right? If Jesus would have prepared the hearts we were supposed to speaking life into. Everyone we approached would be expecting us, their hearts and minds would be ready, all we had to do was deliver the initial message. And by the way, how do we know they’re not? We can’t see the heart of another. How many amazing stories begin with someone randomly inviting someone else to Church with them, and they accept!
Peter and John went out in boldness to preach, share and spread the Kingdom. They went where they weren’t wanted and threatened with death. They spoke to those who didn’t want to hear what they had to say. They ultimately died for speaking to others about Christ. And yet, how many conversions?!!?
If we are afraid of living, proclaiming, and sharing our faith–and look, the question above doesn’t even mention an active evangelization, it just talks about making the sign of the cross and praying before and after meals–we seriously need to examine our Christianity.
“Are you afraid to visit a church when you are with your friends?”
This question as well goes along with the one above it. If we cannot be who we are, a Christ-follower, imitator, and friend of Jesus, around the people or places we associate, we are living the Christian life wrong, wrong, wrong. I’m sorry to say that but I would much rather hear it now than at the final judgment when God tells me I denied Him, He will now deny me.
We all know we should be considering these things, but sometimes we get too comfortable with who we hang around. Maybe because we’re afraid of finding new friends, maybe because we’re considered the “good one” in our group of friends and so there are no expectations to be better (C’mon now!), maybe because we’re afraid of hurting the friend who really is not good for us. Maybe because we’re afraid of being alone?
And maybe we’re afraid to closely examine our friendships because we know if we do, we might have to walk away, and maybe we’ve already given away too much of ourselves. You and I both know what I’m talking about.
Listen to me, God can handle all of those scenarios and more. Go to Him and ask Him how to handle the situation. Ask Him to give you new friends, friends that want to grow in closer friendship with Him so you can grow together and encourage each other.
Decide now, who would you rather walk away from? God or man?