Friendships That Make a Difference

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. “...Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.”                          2 Timothy 2:22 NLT

I had read this sentence that is at the end of 2 Timothy 2:22 just before our long-time friend Paul Irwin came for a visit. Paul and his wife Colleen have been friends since our early years of marriage. For the last 10 years plus they have been serving in Washington D.C.

I find our friendship always spiritually challenging. Our times together focus as much on our ministry activities and spiritual life as weather, family and normal “conversation.”

This last Saturday one of my former legislative colleagues, Spencer Swalm came to Fort Collins for a visit. We discussed a recent blog of his on John the Baptist that I found insightful and challenging. We always end our visit with a time of prayer.

On Sunday I was able to catch up with a local Christian businessman and community leader who has just gone through a surgery for some cancer. During our conversation he asked more questions about me and how I was doing and how he could prayer for me than talking about himself.

Yesterday morning I made a re-connection after a long absence with a Tuesday morning prayer time with some county officials and others who join for a brief time of devotion and prayer. It is usually a meaningful 15 minute session.

I review these recent personal connections and activites because they gave me an opportunity to reflect and experience what Paul tells Timothy is so important, “companionship with those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” We need, I need, to be around those who encourage my “spiritual commitment and fervor.” It doesn’t mean that is all we discuss, but it is certainly something that goes beyond normal conversations.

Why is this important? I believe Paul gives the explanation in the first part of this verse. “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace…” (2 Timothy 2:22 NLT)

If we are going to pursue a life of strong faith and godly character, we need the strength the comes from the fellowship and encouragement of others.

At times that can be challenging, perhaps even make us uncomfortable at times. A pastor friend of mine when we meet will often take a break from discussing the business of the ministry that connects us and ask, “How is Ken? How is your family? How are you emotionally? Spiritually?” The quick response is usually “fine…doing good.” It is much more difficult to say, “I’ve been struggling recently. I need prayer.” 

But as we read in scripture, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17 NLT) When I was in the legislature our caucus leader would remind us that “serving in the legislature is a ‘team sport'” If that is important for survival in politics, it certainly applies to our lives as followers of Christ. We actually see several scriptures that remind us of that fact.

So, do you have conversations and connections with other believers that go beyond the surface of normal conversation? Do those times at least on occasion serve to encourage and challenge you spiritually? Do they help you “pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace.”?