June 27, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
Imparting Your Life Today
“Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.”
1 Thessalonians 2:8
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I am sitting down now and thinking about how I am going to spend my day today. I have to prepare a sermon, write the daily encouragement, do some legal work, and meet some friends at the beach today for Bible Study and prayer. I know I will enjoy all of those things. Have you ever asked yourself why you are doing the things you are doing? I sat down with a friend recently and he told me that I am the only person on earth that he wants to count as a friend. He is not a believer, but he likes to talk about the Bible. I tell my friends that I am happy to be their friend, but I am not happy to be their only friend. Well, as my friend and I talked, I encouraged him to think about his relationships with people from a different perspective. All of us need multiple friends in Christ. I spend a lot of time with men over 60 years of age. I found over time that many of those men would prefer to spend time with me one on one–praying, talking and reading the Bible. I like for those men to meet in small groups, and get to know other people in Christ. Many people, especially men, do not really want to share their lives with groups, even small groups. Of course we all need time with our closest friends to share one one one, but we also need to have fellowship with groups of believers.
Think about the people you are acquainted with. Of those people, from your perspective, who needs to have a relationship with you? I am not asking you who you like, who will live up to your expectations, who has treated you fairly in the past, or any other criteria that depends upon the other person. I am asking, from your perspective, who needs a relationship with you, without regarding what you will get out of the relationship. Who needs you to impart your life to them?
In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul talked about his affection for the Thessalonians. Because of that affection, the ministry team imparted their lives to the Thessalonians. This term “imparted” means to transfer something over, to give or to share. Now let me link up that idea with the term “affection” in the same verse. Paul states that the ministry team had a present, ongoing affection in their hearts for the Thessalonians. This affection prompted the ministry team to share (1) the Gospel of Jesus Christ and (2) their own lives. You see, the Thessalonians had become very dear to the ministry team. As you form strong bonds of friendship, you will see this pattern of growing affection and your friends becoming very dear to you. As you impart more of your life into them, the bonds grow stronger and the emotions of affection and counting them dear rise and the relationship deepens in Christ.
So, back to where I started. What will you be doing today to impart your life in Christ to someone, along with imparting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them? You really cannot share the Gospel of Jesus Christ without also imparting your life to them also. Who will you spend time with today because they have become very dear to you? So many people run from relationships because they have been burned so often in the past. Learn from Paul. Impart the life of Christ in you to them, along with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let Jesus form the strong bonds of affection, and promote greater love and sharing of your lives together in Christ.
So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship form when we act out of affection for people with whom we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship grow when we impart our lives to believers, and they become more and more dear to us. We do not grow tired of them, discouraged with them, or critical of them. We grow in affection for them.
● We harm our bonds of friendship when we stop imparting our lives to our friends, and live only in the darkness of selfishness.
Application for Today
Today, I want to impart my life in Christ to my friends in Christ. I want to grow in affection for my Christian friends. To whom will you impart your life in Christ to today?