INSPECT WHAT YOU EXPECT!
Today God has given me a subject that I wrestle with consistently, and I feel sure that I’m not alone on the issue. God through various speakers and conversations with others is constantly asking me, “what is it you seek in a true friend.” To which my answer always feels (in my opinion) to be lacking in substance. My idea of the perfect friend is constantly changing, especially as I get older. I am becoming more aware of my misguided identification of what a true friend looks like. It becomes more apparent to me with each passing day that the majority of us are basing friendships on the ideals of man rather than the teachings God is providing. Over the centuries people have used friendships as gossip parties, obligated laborers, sin enablers, psychiatrists, bankers, priests, etc., that’s right, you see the word used because many friendships turn out to be more about using and abusing each other, than relying on, love, and trust to sustain.
As I’ve researched the subject over the years, I’ve decided to use an article I read by Marvin J. Ashtonhas who seems in tune with the subject. He writes, “There seems to be a misunderstanding on the part of some men today as to what it means to be a friend. Acts of a friend should result in self-improvement, better attitudes, self-reliance, comfort, consolation, self-respect, and better welfare. Certainly, the word friend is misused if it is identified with a person who contributes to our delinquency, misery, and heartaches. When we make a man feel he is wanted, his whole attitude changes. Our friendship will be recognizable if our actions and attitudes result in improvement and independence.” In short, leave everything, every place, and everyone better than you found them. Paul the Apostle describes this in Colossians 3:17 (ESV), And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
My pastor uses the phrase “inspect what you expect” and it carries a ton of truth, however, it is like gazing across the ocean, nothing particular stands out. It is only when we pick a specific spot or explicit subject that it becomes a useful tool. We have to learn how to focus on what God says about a better me and seek His word for ways to get there. Ergo, when we focus on friendship and what we look for in a true friend, we must inspect our deepest desires, and once we determine what we expect a real friend to look like, we must again inspect ourselves to see if we carry those exact qualities for others to expect from us. I liken it to the law of reaping and sowing in Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV), 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Today friendship is the topic however, for the followers of Jesus it should become painfully obvious that this can, and will work in every area of life if we apply it. Back in 1984, Helen Jones made a cross-stitch for me that reads, I went outside to find a friend, but could not find one there; I went outside to be a friend and friends were everywhere. Now think about that for a bit! It took a while but hit me like a brick some years later. The Apostle Paul goes on to tell us in Galatians 6:9-10 (ESV), 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. So, I now go outside intentionally looking for that next friend, to practice my friendship skills and learn how to become a better true friend to and through them. Even though the principles of friendship are the same, the details and situations will always be different. That’s what makes each relationship unique to its own identity and that is where we learn the truth. Only God can give us the mindset to open our heart, without reservation to another and only Jesus can teach us that which we lack in love, as the Holy Spirit teaches us to inspect our integrity, that we may always be more (in God’s Holy Trinity) than others expect.
I pray today that we would each inspect our hearts for the kind of friend we want and see how our own lives stack up with our desire. I ask that our #1 priority be to establish a dependent relationship with you Lord and example all our friendships as though we were face-to-face with you. Give us the revelation that everything must start with you, pass through us, and return with your blessings. Please, grant us the wisdom to live Matthew 7:12 (ESV), “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Let us be the spiritual teacher of friendship to our now and new friends, for your glory and honor. Thank you Father, for the awesome opportunity we have, to serve you in love. Amen
HAVE A BLESSED WEEK BY BEING A BLESSING TO OTHERS!
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