Remembering My Creator: Volume 1, Number 9, March 2011

 

Remembering My Creator

Volume 1, Number 9

Theme: Tough Choices About Friends

In This Issue:

  • “The Qualities I Want in a Friend” By Ryan Sexton
  • “Coming to a Brother in Sin” by David Bushnaq
  • “How The Need For Approval Influences Your Selection of Friends” by Randy Sexton

The Qualities I Want in a Friend

By Ryan Sexton

The exercise that Mr. Banning uses in his book Tough Choices, challenges you to spend $10 to buy the qualities you want in a friend. He lists several qualities as $4 qualities, and others as $3, $2 and $1. The challenge is for you to select a combination of these qualities that do not add up to more than $10. He mingles such solid qualities as being a Christian, having high moral standards, being faithful and loyal with more superficial qualities like being good looking, having money, having a nice house and being a good dresser. The point of the exercise, of course is to reinforce what is taught in the Bible.

What does the Bible teach about choosing your friends? Notice the following passages:

Proverbs 1:8-19 says don’t be with sinners who steal, murder, plunder, lie in wait

for blood, only to ambush and those who run to evil.

 

John 12:42-43 says to stay away from those who believe in Him but will not follow Him for

fear of what others will think.

 

1 Corinthians 15:33 says “bad company ruins good morals”

What all these verses are saying is

1) Don’t be with sinners.

2) Don’t be with people who lie

3) Being with people who are bad will turn your heart bad.

 

Coming to a Brother in Sin

By David Bushnaq

This is one of the most difficult articles that I’ve had to write. Coming to a brother in Christ is a very difficult thing that one has to do. If you come on too strong, they may lose heart, if you take it too lightly, they may feel it’s not that big of a deal. So how should one go about doing so?

First it’s important to remember that they are a Christian, same as we are, and as such we must do so with humility, as we could very well be in need of someone coming to us as well. If the Christian is newer to the church, we must take a special care for fear of them becoming discouraged.

However, it must be done. Someone comes to you and brings something to your attention, that someone you are close to has done something to wrong another, it must be dealt with before it gets worse.

So how does one go about doing so? Well, first we are to come to the brother “man to man” so to speak. Matthew 18: 5 says ““If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” A lot of the time the person may very well not know they have done this, and the issue is dealt with just like that. The brother is forgiven and you have indeed gained your brother.

However, in more difficult cases it may be that your words aren’t enough. As such we have recorded in verse 16 “But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” In this case, maybe older, wiser people may be able to verify what was said and may give the approach you need to gain back your brother.

My friends, discipline is only half of the battle. If I have sinned and need to be corrected of this sin, and I truly repent of it, the church will welcome me back with open arms as one would a brother who was lost [as in the Prodigal son {Luke 15:11-32} We are to be joyous when our brother returns and show that we really care for the person. It is because of Jesus and his death that we have the blessing to pray to the Lord asking for the forgiveness of our sins and the hope of a life with him in Heaven. We are truly blessed in this manner!

But if the brother is unwilling, regardless of the pleas that you have made so far, or if the issue is a public manner, the issue must be brought to the church in the hopes that someone will say or do whatever needs to be said/done to touch their heart and have them repent, for if they even neglect the Church, they must be put off from the church, a situation that is painful and very hard to do.

So what do you say? Each case is different and I can not give a catch-all circumstance that will touch everyone’s heart and cause them to repent. All we can do is look to the bible for examples. When David sinned with Beth-Sheba, Jonathan came to rebuke him. He did not do so in anger or malice, but with subtlety and in such a way that David himself admitted to his own fault. This is found in 2 Samuel 12.

Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2: 24-25 that we must not be quarrelsome, but be kind, able to teach, and patient when wronged. Being an angry, spiteful person when wronged may be an easy thing for me to do, but that just makes the situation worse because instead of helping, we might say something to hurt them and drive them further from the church! We must NEVER do this! The passage goes on to say we are to correct those in opposition with gentleness. Being a Christian is a labor of love, my friends, we must always remember this!

In Galatians 6:1 We read “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” We can ask for the aid of our brothers and sisters in Christ in times of difficulty or temptation. We are blessed to have older, wiser people who can offer aid in our trials because they have been in our position. They grew up in a sinful world as we did, and maybe they can say what we’re unable to.

There is a beautiful passage in James I’d like to touch on quickly before I end this article. James 5:19-20 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” So powerful it can be for us to restore our brother to the Lord! This is a very encouraging passage knowing that when we sin [as we all do] when we do repent of it, ALL of our sins are forgiven! And when we repent, we will be restored to the Lamb’s book of life, and not us only, but everyone who repents!

I hope this article has helped in some way and I truly appreciate your time and attention in reading this.

 

 

How the Need for Approval Influences Your Selection of Friends

By Randy Sexton

This week I began re-reading a book that I had read a few years ago, and came upon a statement that fits well into this month’s topic. As a young person, you face a great deal of peer pressure that can weigh heavily upon your choice of friends.

As you consider living a life with God as its center and with Jesus as your king, think about the following statements:

“Many people are driven by the need for approval. They allow the expectations … of friends to control their lives…. Others are driven by peer pressure, always worried by what others might think. Unfortunately, those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it…. Being controlled by the opinions of others is a guaranteed way to miss God’s purposes for your life” (The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, pp. 29-30).

May I suggest to you that, if you use the wrong standard, it will unduly influence you in your selection of friends. Consider with me three mistakes that the need for approval may cause you to make in your selection of friends.

First, you may hang out with the wrong crowd and find yourself developing bad habits. Many a person has taken up smoking or drugs or alcohol or pre-marital sex because they have associated with those to whom these things were important. Do not fall into that trap. Understand the temptations that are there and make plans ahead of time to avoid them.

Second, you may become too close to the wrong person and find yourself marrying someone that will bring you down. It is easy to fall prey to the allure of a person’s good looks and not look for the “adornment … of a gentle and quiet spirit,” (1st Peter 3:4) as you reach your dating years. But be wise and understand what is really important and choose someone who will help you on your journey to heaven.

Third, you may find that, after you have lived a number of years, you have wasted your potential and now have little to show for the time that you been given to prepare for eternity. As Mr. Warren points out in his excellent book, we were put here by God to prepare for eternity. Our earthly body is just a temporary residence. Having the right perspective of this life as only a preparation for the life to come, will influence our choices about how we spend our time, our money, and our talents and on the value that we place on relationships.

Is this an area that you struggle with? Is it tough for you to stand for things that you know will make you unpopular? Do you seek out those who are the most popular, who are the most athletic, and who are the best looking to be your friends? Do you shun those who are not popular, who are not considered “cool,” and who don’t quite measure up in terms of their “outward appearance”? Please consider the exercise that Ryan mentions above from David Banning’s book. What are the qualities that really matter to God? Make it those qualities that you value in a friend. Look at the hearts of people rather than at their outward appearance. Use the same selection criteria that God does, as he looks for those to serve Him (see 1st Samuel 16:7).