I was doing my usual grueling gym routine yesterday and I was on the tortuous stair machine, which puts you at high vantage point to see much of what is happening on the floor of the gym. I noticed something that caught my attention and brought a smile to my face. No, it was not the hilarious antics of those of us who are not quite sure how to use certain exercise machines, though their continual repositioning and experimenting is quite entertaining. I’m sure I have been the source of others’ amusement as I tried to look like I knew what I was doing, yet doing the exercise completely wrong! No, it was also not the person who spends most of their time flitting from one station to another doing one or two reps on the lightest setting, showing no real strain, yet resting as if that had just spent the last 20 minutes pushing hard with that exercise. Yes, I know it’s better than nothing, but if there is no strain there is no real gain! Anyway, what did bring that smile to my face was a group of people working hard at their workout yet interconnecting. I later discovered were friends.
As I finished my ‘stairway of agony,’ I started heading to my next exercise, which happened to be in ear-shot of this group. They were encouraging each other to push harder and take another rep or add a bit more weight. They greatly affirmed and reassured each other’s efforts, cautioning the need for breaks and getting back at it. This group also took moments to ask about each other’s family, where they were going on vacation, how things were at work. They also made jokes with each other and laughed about funny stories. As I was finishing my next machine, still in the area of this group, one of the guys who was really giving his exercise his all, finishes to the applause of the group and wiping the sweat from his brow said, “Thanks guys, you all are true friends!”
Friends are a great blessing in life, not just to have friends, but to be a friend with others. The Bible has a lot say about friends.
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
Friendship is important in life, not only at the gym, but at work, in your neighborhood, at school, on your team, in your marriage and family. Friendship brings relationships into a whole new dimension that enhances life. So what are some key elements that bring relationship into that deeper connection of being a friend? Here are a couple of Bible passage that will help:
Colossians 3:12-14 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
1 Peter 3:8-9 8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
Let me pull out of these passages two key elements of friendship.
The first is affirmation. It’s noticing positive qualities and achievement and expressing them. It is the core of kindness.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
It is choosing to focus on the positive of the other rather than the negative. It’s pausing the sarcasm and inserting expressions of great qualities of that friend. It is sharing compliment, praises, tributes, accolades and commendations.
Connecting is the other key. It is essence of brotherly love that seeks to be a forever learner of the other. To know their likes and dislikes and favorites. Like in the true story of King David and Jonathan in the Bible (you can find their story in the Bible book of 1 Samuel). They grew into long lasting friends because they choose to keep connecting with each other.
1 Samuel 18:1 As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
It is continue to inquire about what the other is thinking and experiencing in life. Yes sharing experiences like playing Pokemon Go together, but also discovering their interests, opinions, and past.
Now, church can be a fun place to make friends and be a friend. If you are not already connected to a church, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches in either Los Alamitos or Garden Grove this week. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net . We would love for you to join us.
Seeking to be good friends along with you,