Bible Reading: Romans 15:1-4
We should please others. If we do what helps them, we will build them up in the Lord. Romans 15:2
Long before Clark started school, his parents discovered that he had a learning disability. Year by year Clark’s teachers tutored him and poured themselves into keeping him on track with the rest of the class. Yet of all the people who have helped him, Clark’s biggest encouragement has come from a classmate, Thomas.
At first Clark didn’t know whether to trust Thomas. Clark knew firsthand what it was like to have friends who promise to help but then forget. Or who stop helping when others tease them about hanging out with “the stupid kid.”
Sometimes our friends turn out to be less than perfect. You’ve probably uncovered a few people who weren’t the true pals you believed they were.
We need to be on guard against at least four kinds of friends that are bound to leave us disappointed and frustrated.
• Part-time friends. Ted is a great buddy to Scott when they get one-on-one. But Ted ignores Scott—or slams him—when they’re around a crowd. Some part-time friends are just the opposite—cozy when you’re with a mob of people, ice-cold when you’re alone.
• Conditional friends. Stacie treats friendship like bait, dangling a relationship in front of other girls to get them to do what she wants. She’s your friend as long you cough up what she wants. As soon as you choke, the friendship sputters.
• Careless friends. Bethany blabs secrets, gossips, and breaks promises. It’s tough to have much of a friendship with her because you never know where you stand.
• Shallow friends. Even when Simon’s friends need some serious help, he cracks a joke. It’s fine to chitchat and share activities with him, but it’s doubtful you can expect much more.
Maybe you’re in the middle of one of these types of friendships right now. So talk about it: Do you have friends and acquaintances who fit any of the above descriptions? Have you wound up discouraged, hurt, or lonely?
It’s impossible to completely avoid less-than-perfect friends. Our job, however, is to be friends who are as true and as real as we know how to be.
TALK: What does a true friend look like? What makes them so rare and special?
PRAY: God, help us to be true friends to the people around us.
ACT: Do you shows any signs of being a part-time, conditional, careless, or shallow friend? What one bad friendship trait do you want to work on changing?