By: Didi Bacon
I love the wisdom literature of the Bible. I am talking Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. You could also make a case for the book of James being wisdom literature for the New Testament. Wisdom is about heavenly principles for practical living. It is God’s Truth applied to life in the right way, at the right time, for the right results.
One of the strong themes found in the wisdom of scripture is that relationships matter. It is important to have friends in life. It is not good to try to live life alone. We need others and others need us. That is how God created us.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)
The power of healthy friendships is being confirmed time and time again by today’s research. One of the big lessons from the pandemic is that isolation is as deadly, and maybe more deadly, than the virus. We need face-to-face interactions in order to thrive.
The single most common finding from a half-century’s research on life satisfaction, not only in the U.S. but around the world, is that happiness is best predicted by the breadth and depth of one’s social connections. Robert Putnam
But here is something that is important to understand from the wisdom of scripture. It is not only that we need friends, it is more important that we have the right kind of friends. Good friends bring life. Bad friends lead to disaster.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)
This is where wisdom is needed in deeper ways. Not only do we need people in our lives in friendship, we have to work at connecting with the right people. Life-giving connections don’t just happen. We have to be intentional. We have to be careful. We have to be very prayerful. We have to take wise initiative both in the acquisition of good friendships and in the maintenance of them.
In the early stage of your life, you were shaped most by your family. But for the rest of your life you will be shaped largely by your friends. You become like the people with whom you spend the most time. – Tim Keller
Life giving relationships require work, creative work. We grow in our faith with those we invest in and make time to be with. We must be willing to make choices and do the work to achieve the life-enriching relationships we desire.
This September we will be working through a message series called “My Few.” The focus of this message series will be to help identify, engage and invest in the small group of people that God brings into your life to encourage, equip and enthuse you in your walk with Jesus. We will be looking to put into practice the way Jesus invested in his few. Plan to be with us in this journey.
Jesus followers are to be all about life giving relationships. It is where we learn to love God and love people. Loving people is done with your few. This Fall we will be kicking off our Small Groups and our One-with-Three disciple groups. Environments and opportunities for you to find your few. Sign up and give these groups a try. You need friends, especially friends in the faith. Your friends need you, too!
Love everybody. Trust a few. Paddle your own canoe.