Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Tuesday, October 18th. If you struggle with loneliness, today's podcast lists 10 steps to help you overcome these powerful feelings. Here's part two of Building Wise Friendships. When you think about your friendships, let me just simply say that your friends, that is if you have any true, genuine, loving, caring, devoted, loyal friends, they're one of the greatest assets you have in your life.
And because they're assets in your life, you have to handle them. It takes time. It takes effort.
It takes energy. And oftentimes people say, well, I just don't have any friends and I wish I did. What you have to ask is, are you trying to build friendships? Are you trying to build relationships or do you just expect them to happen? You see, casual friendships sort of happen. Real, true, genuine, loving, loyal, devoted friends don't happen.
They're not found. They're built. And the quality of the material we place in that friendship will determine how long it lasts and how satisfying it is. And oftentimes we are in too big a hurry. We don't want to spend the time. We don't want to spend the effort. And yet we still want those kind of friendships.
They don't come that way. So I want us to think about this whole idea because when you think about friendships, think about this. One of the first things that our Lord said was this. He said, having created Adam, he looked around at all this absolutely perfect garden and here's Adam all by himself. And he said, it's not good that man be alone. Now, when the Bible speaks of man, usually it's talking about mankind, at least in some verses.
And so it's certainly not good for a man to be alone or a woman to be alone. That's what God said. So, in fact, he was so persuaded and convinced of that, he gave Adam Eve. That is, he desired that he have a relationship, that he have a friendship.
And so he created her. And God made us for relationships, for companions and for friendship. And it is not good for us to live alone.
I think anyone who lives alone can say, while the Lord maybe has brought us to a sense of satisfaction and contentment, it's still not good in lots of ways to be alone. And so God knew that and therefore he made preparation for it. When you think, for example, in the scriptures of how many of God's servants down through the years had friends surrounding them. For example, in fact, the Bible says that God said that Abraham was his friend, that he was a friend to Abraham. And you'll recall that Moses had Aaron and Joshua as his very intimate close friends that helped him. You'll recall that David had Jonathan, but he also had many other very loyal, devoted friends who would have given their life for him.
And, of course, all of us remember Daniel, the prophet Daniel. He had three very devoted friends of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They were all such good friends to Daniel.
They were willing to risk their lives on the basis of a conviction that he had and that they shared. Then the Lord Jesus Christ certainly had his friends and twelve disciples and he knew them. He loved them and they loved him. And then among those twelve, he had three very intimate friends. That is Peter, James and John, not favorites, but intimates. Then the apostle Paul, when you read the epistles, you'll discover that the apostle Paul had a numbers of friends.
And he would say, would you please tell Luke to come to see me or Timothy or whoever it might have been? He had numbers of friends. He had lots to say about them because they were very important to him. In fact, one of the greatest assets you and I have is a loyal, devoted, faithful friend.
And when we don't have those, there's something missing in our life. And so I would simply ask you, can you look around in your life today and say, well, yes, I do have one, two, three of those friends. If you have three of those kind of friends, you are so very, very blessed. Now, the big question is this, how do I develop that kind of relationship? How do I build that kind of friendship with anyone? Well, I want to go back to say, remember, that oftentimes our background has an effect upon the way we were treated. It doesn't have to be just necessary in your childhood, but the way you've been treating your adulthood. The way we've been treating the past oftentimes highly influences our capacity to be able to build wise relationships, wise friendships. So, what I want to do is I want to give you a list of things that I know will prove helpful. And I simply want to put it this way, that is, we build wise friendships when? And I'm going to give you a list of things. We build wise friendships when we share, listen, a deep mutual concern. Now, that's not the only reason, so I'm going to say that's just one of many.
It's not the most important one, but it is a basic one. We build wise friendships when we can share a deep mutual interest. Now, all of us who are believers have a wonderful mutual interest. Now, if you want to build a wise friendship, wise relationship, that mutual interest as a believer should always be, and certainly a part of that should be the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you have a relationship and a friendship that you can't ever mention His name without the other person being slightly objecting to it or feel like you want to don't push me, there's something wrong with that relationship. Unless it is a relationship that you're willing to lead this person to Jesus Christ, then I can understand that. But when we're talking about building friendships, loyal, devoted, loving friendships, first of all, certainly that's going to begin with a mutual sense of deep interest and things that you have together.
Then this is a very important one. We can build these kind of friendships, wise friendships, when this is very important, because I want to comment about this in a moment, when that friendship is based on my meeting their needs, not their meeting my needs. That is, if my friendship is built on the fact that I'm needy and I need the other person, that friendship probably will not go very far. Now, I believe that God wants to bring all of us to the place where He is absolutely sufficient in our life. So, I know in my own life, for example, I've lived long enough, a number of years now, alone, and I know that God does know how and that He can bring us to the place in our life, now listen carefully, where we do not feel needy.
We don't need anyone. I didn't say we do not need people, but that we don't have this neededness so that our relationships and friendships are based on I need this, I need you, I need that, I need Him, I need her. Because those kind of relationships don't really last very long oftentimes. But the Lord Jesus Christ in our heart can bring us to a point of such absolute, complete, listen, adequacy, sufficiency, completeness, contentment in Him that we then can build very godly, wise, wonderful, contenting, energizing, motivating friendships because it isn't based on need. It is based now on how can I help this person? How can I meet their needs?
How can I be the person they need me to be to them? And so there is a difference between developing a friendship based on this very needy, I need you kind of feeling and I must have you kind of feeling and a freedom from all of that that makes it possible for us to build very wise, godly, contenting, fruitful, delightful, pure relationships and friendships. Likewise, if we're going to build these kind of relationships and we're going to build these kind of friendships, we must be willing to risk rejection and pain.
We're all going to have it. Because all of us are human, here's what happens. Two people can love each other or two people can have a good relationship. And one of them is going to do something that the other one feels rejected or feels like, well, you weren't thinking about me, you didn't care. And they're going to feel pain. Listen, if you're waiting until you can find someone who will cause you no pain, who will cause you no sense of rejection, and whose life is such that you'll never have any hurt, you'll never have a relationship. Because Jesus, for example, He caused the apostle Peter some pretty straight pain. He said to him, you act like the devil.
That had to be painful in front of the rest of them. And so therefore, when we come to building these wise relationships and friendship, you've got to be willing to suffer a little hurt, a little pain, a little misunderstanding, and some rejection. You want to build strong relationships and friendships? We can do that when we love sacrificially. If I love sacrificially, it means that I can give and expect nothing in return. It means that I can also give when I have needs, but I don't have to mention them. It means that I can put myself second.
It means if I love sacrificially, I'm willing to lay down my life and lay down my wants and my wishes in order to please and to make the other person happy and to bring them to contentment and joy in their life. If you're going to have those kind of relationships, you must be willing to be open and transparent. Now what do I mean by that?
Simply this. If you're going to build a friendship with someone, you've got to open your heart. You've got to be willing to say, you know, let me tell you how I'm feeling and not worry about whether the other person is going to respond in the wrong way or not.
To be transparent says I'm going to be open, honest about my feelings, about what I'm thinking, how I'm thinking, why I thought that way, why I did this. And the other person may question that, but you know what? If you wait till you get somebody who always agrees with you, that's not friendship. Friends are willing to confront, but genuine true friends confront in love. They confront with the idea of edifying the other person, building them up, strengthening them, helping them to see their relationship to God, helping them to understand what is best in their life. You see, if you're going to build those kind of friendships, it takes effort.
It takes energy. And I must be willing to open my heart. Now, the tragedy of people like that is this. What they don't realize is when they shut you out, they shut themselves up to their own loneliness.
My heart goes out to people who are lonely, who shut themselves into a very small world for fear of rejection, further rejection, fear of further hurt, further pain. You know what? You're not going to get out from behind that wall until you're willing to risk it. Are you going to get hurt? Yes. Pain? Yes. Rejection? Yes. Is it worth it?
Yes. But you've got to be willing to get out. Say, you know what? I'm imperfect. Here's what happened in my life. And I need help. I need your understanding.
I need your prayers, whatever it might be. Then, if we're going to build those kind of intimate, happy, joyful kind of friendships, we must be willing to serve the other person gladly. And you know what? If you have a true friend and you want to be a true friend, you want to develop real true friendships, serving one another is just part of it. If you're one of those persons and you're always on the receiving end and that's the way you like it, you'll never have genuine, true, intimate, loving, loyal, devoted, lasting friendship.
It just doesn't work. It goes both ways. And when you find two people who love to serve each other, well, I see people like them. I see people who are happily married and they just love each other to death. They're serving each other. They don't have to be coaxed into doing it.
It's just part of, it flows because of what? Because of their genuine love and their genuine respect and their love for each other. Then, I'm going to be able to build those kind of wise friendships when I can say, please forgive me, and to be forgiving to the other person. If you cannot say, I was wrong, I really blew it, I was very insensitive, I wasn't looking out for you, I didn't think about you, I was only thinking about myself, I need to ask you, would you please forgive me? If you can't say that, you cannot build friendship. You've got to be willing to say, please forgive me, and then.
You're going to build lasting friendship. You've got to be willing to be forgiving no matter what. When somebody says, I can forgive you, but it's over.
It just got canceled. The word forgiven doesn't mean, it's meaningless at that point. Listen, how can I withhold forgiveness from anyone when He has forgiven me all of my life?
I was saved at twelve and every single thing I've ever done that was not right in the eyes of God is forgiven, washed away in the blood of Jesus. How can I hold vengeance and retaliation? I may not like what some people do, but you know what? I have no right to refuse forgiveness. You're going to build good friendships, lasting friendships, you've got to be forgiving. We build wise friendships when we can accept criticism and praise gladly. Now I know that runs against your grain and you say, what's this gladly business? Well, how can you accept criticism and praise gladly? Let me ask you a question. Do you have a right to accept praise if you can't accept criticism?
I don't think so. In other words, if I love your praise, I must be willing to gladly accept your criticism. If, watch this now, if I'm persuaded you really love me, I'm going to be able to accept your criticism because I know, you know what? You're looking out for my best interest. You see something about me I don't see. You love me enough to confront me. You love me enough to tell me I was wrong. You love me enough to tell me you need to look at that and reexamine that.
If you can't have that kind of relationship with somebody, you can't have a real marriage, you can't have a real relationship, you can't have a genuine, fulfilling, contenting, joyful, exciting, listen, happy relationship with anybody. Because praising criticism is part of life. How do you handle that? That is, how do we wisely handle those things? I'm simply saying, if you're going to build a relationship, if you're going to build a friendship with somebody, you must be willing to accept praise and criticism. Listen, gladly. I will only accept it gladly when I believe it's being done in love and when I believe the other person really has my best interest at heart. If that's not there, you won't, it won't be very gladly. Then, I will build wise relationships when I'm committed to the spiritual growth of the other person. When I'm committed to the spiritual growth of the other person, I can build a wonderful relationship. When I want to encourage them in the Word of God. When I want to encourage them to pray and I'm willing to pray with them and I'm willing to help them understand the Word of God, the ways of God. When I can carry on a conversation with somebody about the Lord Jesus Christ and feel absolutely free to express what I believe God is saying at this point. When I can say to a person, let me tell you what I believe the Lord has said to me about thus and so.
And what I'd like for us to do is to pray together about this and see if you get the same confirmation about this that I do. When I think about helping someone else grow up in their spiritual life, you just think about what a wonderful opportunity we have. That to establish those kind of friendships, that we're helping the other person grow up and mature in their spiritual life. Listen, two genuine friends, that's what they do.
When they're genuine friends, godly friends, what do they do? They want to see each other grow up because as one person grows, what do they do? They pull the other person. When they get there, they pull the other person.
So what happens is this. As each one matures in their life in different areas, it motivates and strengthens and encourages and inspires us to grow equally in that area. Because in every two people, one is going to be stronger in one way than the other. And what happens is, God just does something absolutely fantastic in their lives. What a beautiful way to establish a lasting friendship when you're challenged and motivated to help grow the other person up in their spiritual life. Likewise, when we really and truly want to develop lasting, true, genuine friendships, we will do that when the principles of Scripture govern our relationship. When the principles of Scripture govern our relationship. Now that would eliminate a lot of things in people's lives.
If they said, you know what, we, I certainly want to be your friend and I would be interested in building a friendship relationship with you. And let's just decide in the very beginning that the principles of the Word of God will govern our relationship. It'll govern what we say to each other. It'll govern how we react to each other. It will govern our conduct and our behavior in public and in private. It will govern every aspect of our life because we want a godly relationship. And when you choose to build a relationship governed by the principles of the Word of God, you're going to build a fantastic relationship, a loving, loyal, devoted, immeasurable, incomparable, indescribable relationship that will bring you the greatest sense of contentment and joy and peace and happiness in your life, no matter what. Thank you for listening to Part 2 of Building Wise Friendships. We would also like to invite you to join us in celebrating 45 years of God's faithfulness. Stop by InTouch.org slash 45 years to learn more. This podcast is a presentation of InTouch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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