(Please understand, this series of articles is designed for the born-again believer. If you are not already saved, the only way you can jump-start your relationship is by accepting Him as your Savior.)
This is probably the most difficult step. It requires a brutally honest assessment of your relationship with Jesus, as we started in the first Part of this series.
As we ended Part 1, we looked at the Signs of a Bad Friend. To complete our first step, we need to now look at the characteristics of a good friendship. Most people can say they’ve had at least one good friend in their life. Think about a good friend of yours right now. What are some of the things about that person that makes them a good friend to you? Take a look at this list, and see if your good friend is here somewhere.
Signs of a Good Friend
We’re going to dive in again, and look at each sign a little deeper.
****NOTE: the questions & comments posed in this section are meant to provoke self-analysis. I make no judgement on you or your particular situation. God is your judge, and He already knows about you and your situation.
1. They are present – when they are with you, they give you their full attention. They are aware of you – fully living in the moment you are together. They make you a priority. They know what makes you tick; they are in-tune with you, can predict your needs. Just their presence can have a calming effect on you.
There’s a lot going on here, but that’s what being present means. Let’s look at just a few aspects of this sign.
Do you give Jesus your full attention? Do you find yourself distracted by everything else in your life? Do you somehow manage to let things get in the way of your prayer time, study time, attending church? Do you not even have a prayer time, study time, or attend church regularly? This ties very much into making Jesus a priority, which is part of how you are present with Him.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, (Mark 12:30).
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you, (Matthew 6:33).
Remember, you were so much a priority to Jesus that He gave His life for you.
2. Will you do anything for Jesus? So, I just said this, but Jesus did die for you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends, (John15:13).
Close your eyes (read what I’m gonna say first…then do it!).
Take a deep breath in and fully exhale.
Now ask yourself…”would I do anything for Jesus?”
Would you move away from your family and friends? Would you leave your job at the drop of a hat? Would you be willing to let your successful business close/go bankrupt? Would you go without simple pleasures found in everyday American life (cell phone, cable TV, nice clothes, air conditioning)? Would you be willing to make enemies and lose friends? Would you put your life in danger?
Well…the Gospel tells us, that’s exactly what Peter & Andrew, James & John, and His other disciples did. They literally dropped what they were doing and followed Him.
We are all called, each in our own particular way, to follow Him. If you are saved, you have accepted Him in your life, but if you haven’t answered His call on your life yet…you’re not done. Maybe you’re afraid. Maybe you have doubt.
Here’s what I know: you know what God is calling you to do. It cannot be a wrong choice to serve the Lord. Do your part in fulfilling the Great Commission.
If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him, (John12:26).
So many in our world today say they are willing to do anything for Jesus, but what they really mean is until it gets uncomfortable for them.
Sometimes your lack of action hurts Jesus more than anything else.
3. Do you listen to Jesus? I mean really listen. Like, Be still and know that I am God, kind of listening. You must spend time, every day, unplugged from everything…except Jesus. Open your scriptures, write in your prayer journal, do whatever it is you need to do to get to that place in your brain where nothing else exists.
No television, no cell phone, no radio, NO DISTRACTIONS.
Let the voice of God find you through the noise you have created in your life.
Now this might have to be midnight or the crack of dawn…but find this time! Connect with Jesus in this way. I promise it will make all the difference in the world.
4. They support us – a good friend lifts us up, is there for us in times of difficulty/crisis/adversity, they’ve got our back when we need it.
I can’t help but think of a song I grew up singing in church, I’ll Be A Friend To Jesus. The words in the verses are simply put, but very accurate, and the chorus should be your mantra!
- They tried my Lord and Master,
With no one to defend;
Within the halls of Pilate
He stood without a friend.
I’ll be a friend to Jesus,
My life for Him I’ll spend;
I’ll be a friend to Jesus,
Until my years shall end.
- The world may turn against Him,
I’ll love Him to the end,
And while on earth I’m living,
My Lord shall have a friend.
- I’ll do what He may bid me;
I’ll go where He may send;
I’ll try each flying moment
To prove that I’m His friend.
- To all who need a Savior,
My Friend I’ll recommend;
Because He brought salvation,
Is why I am His friend.
Oh yes! What a glorious friend we have in Jesus. He supports us still to this day and lifts us up in so many ways.
but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens, (Hebrews 7:24-26).
Should we not strive to be such a good friend to Him?
5. They apologize & forgive – a true friend is honest enough with themselves to know when they have done something they need to apologize for. We should be ever aware of our sins and shortcomings, and apologize. I’m not talking about making regular apologies with words that are meaningless grumblings. A true apology is born of awareness, brokenness, and acknowledgment. We then set out to not let the thing we asked forgiveness for become a part of our lives again. The wise steward places safeguards in their lives.
For Christians, the Holy Spirit that lives inside us, won’t let us live in peace if we are not reflecting the life of Christ. The guilt you feel, the condemnation over walking contrary to scripture, is the Spirit at work inside you to bring you back inline with Jesus.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you, (John 16:14).
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16-25)
The amount of forgiveness at the altar of God would fill all the oceans of the world, reaching the depths of the greatest abyss found therein, and spill out uncontrolled beyond their shores.
Jesus made sure of that.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, (1 John 1:9).
But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, (Nehemiah 9:17).
He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world, (1John 2:2).
For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm, (1 Peter 3:18).
All we have to do to receive forgiveness is…ask.
Forgiveness is something Jesus very much wants to see us grant to others. This is very much a part of your Christian walk. Are you holding onto unforgiveness in your heart? Well…that is the devil. Now is the time for you to cleanse yourself of it.
All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ, (Ephesians 4:31-32).For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins, (Matthew 6:14-15).
6. They are honest – you know you have a real friend if they can tell you the truth, even if it hurts. They will call you out when you’re wrong too. Their honesty reminds you of your roots and keeps you humble.
Jesus Himself is Truth!
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me, (John 14:6).
Jesus embodied the very idea of humility. He is the Prince of Peace. He left His great throne on high and took on human form. He lived on this earth, a very modest lifestyle. He served the people; He was not served. Everything about His nature is an example for us to follow.
Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, (Ephesians 3:18).
Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves, (Phillipians 2:3).
All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light, (Matthew 11:29-30).
So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people, (Matthew 6:2).
He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God, (Micah 6:8).
Join me next week for Part 3 in this series of Jump-Start Your Relationship With Jesus Using These Simple Steps. We will investigate the final steps in changing your relationship with your Savior, and summarize what you’ve already learned.
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