It isn’t just anyone who you’d throw in your Jeep and take across the country; there’s a lot of considerations to be made about your passengers before you press on the gas pedal.
Show me who you’re on a road trip with and I’ll show you your destination.
The most important passenger on the road trip we call life is Jesus, but he’s not going to be the only one calling the stops, checking your speed, and tugging at the steering wheel. The people that we are in intimate relationships with will influence our behaviors. Are the people you’re bringing along pointing you in the right direction instead of causing you to wonder how you got there? Do they make you more sharp instead of dulling you with each passing day? Are they true, inspiring, dependable friends instead of personalities to manage as you drive aimlessly around together?
Ask yourself if you’ve got the right people in your car, and then ask yourself how you measure up. Here are five things that true friends do:
Encourage your joy. This is different from encouraging your happiness. Though happiness is temporary and rooted in circumstance, joy is permanent because it’s in spite of any circumstance. Regardless of how happy you are, true friends will stick with you in your current struggles and continue to push you toward joy in God. Our fair-weather friends who only stick around when the skies are sunny are not an accurate reflection of the grace and hope found in Jesus. (Key Verses - Philippians 2:1-2)
Ask Yourself: Are you someone who encourages joy in the lives of your friends, or do you get swept up in momentary circumstances and fail to see the bigger picture? Do you celebrate or become jealous of others’ joy?
Ask you hard questions. Do you have anyone in your life willing to hold you accountable? It doesn’t mean that we always have to like the feedback, but our true friends should feel the freedom to speak into our lives with love in order to help us become who God intended us to be. This probably means they’ll tick you off sometimes by asking you questions you don’t want to be asked at the moment, or maybe by peeling back the layers of your reactions to reveal something deeper. Sometimes you’ll like it. Sometimes you won’t. But the process will always be beneficial if you allow it to be. (Key Verse - Ephesians 4:15)
Ask Yourself: Do you allow your friends to hold you accountable, or do you brush off negative feedback? Just because feedback is difficult to hear doesn’t mean that it’s not in love. If you only ever surround yourself with people who always celebrate and enable you, you’ll end up where you want to go at the expense of where God wants you to be.
Encourage obedience. Do your people continuously push you to make good decisions that build towards the plan that God has for your life? For many of us, it’s the people we consider our closest friends that convince us to make “just this once” decisions or respond to our righteous fear with “it’ll be fine.” We allow others to throw us off course and negatively impact us - and the more we do it, the more normal it becomes. When you’ve got a difficult task set before you, your true friends will lead you and encourage you towards the best possible decision for your life. (Key Verses - Hebrews 10:24, Hebrews 3:13)
Ask Yourself: Are you an enabler? Do your friends turn to you to affirm
Provide the resources you need. True friends are a resource for the people they’re closest to. Since we know that Jesus is ultimately the only true resource and the one answer to every question, need, fear, or problem we’ll ever have, we have a duty: to allow him to use us as a resource to point others to him. In the book of Luke (chapter 5), we read the story of a man who couldn’t get to Jesus because of the crowd that was blocking the way, so his friends cut a hole in the roof in order to drop the man right at the feet of Jesus. Would your friends do whatever it takes to help you get what you need? (Key Verses - Luke 5:18-19)
Ask Yourself: Are there people who are dependent on you to get them to Jesus because you’re the only one that can? Don’t forget that you are placed in this world to be a resource to those around you.
Pray for you. Prayer is the most underutilized power source in the universe. In the Bible, God has shown again and again that he delights to answer our prayers and make a way for us. This means that we can ask God to heal friends, mend relationships, change circumstances, or change us in our circumstances. Do you have friends who are praying for you? True friends know our hopes, dreams, and fears and work to intercede for us, alongside us, and sometimes in spite of us. (Key Verse - 1 Timothy 2:1)
Ask Yourself: Do you pray for your friends? Are we praying for ourselves, that we would be good friends to one another who don’t lead each other astray, but rather point them toward joy and obedience?
Take care to ensure that the people you’ve got up close to you have similar priorities, thoughts, and directions. Circle yourself with people who want the same thing for you that you want. If you don’t have the right people in the car with you, you won’t end up where God wants you to be.
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