Today we conclude our discussion on friendships for the single woman by taking a look at Colossians 4:5-6. This verse tells us to, “Walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” One application from this verse is our conduct with unbelievers. Obviously, in writing this verse Paul assumes that we have contact with those outside the faith. So if all of your friends have grown up in a Christian home or been a Christian for twenty years, you’re missing someone—friends who need salvation. Often it can be so easy for us as women to get consumed by our school or work and we neglect the priority of evangelism. It’s like we walk around campus, through the office cubicles, in and out of the store, and across the street with our head down and blinders on. But we are supposed to be reaching out and having gracious, gospel-motivated conversations with non-Christians. You don’t know any? They are not that hard to find. Maybe all you have to do is look up! So, we’ve considered: Friends who sharpen Friends who mentor. Friends who need a friend. Friends who need salvation. May all these friends be found in your network of relationships. When we choose friends according to God’s criteria, much blessing will result
For the single woman, friends are one of the best deals of your season. As it says in Proverbs 12:26, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully” (NKJV). Yesterday we considered friends who sharpen and spur us on to godliness. Today we want to look at two more friends that Scripture exhorts us to pursue. First we should pursue friends that mentor. Titus 2:3-5 commands the older women to be training the younger women. We should all be aggressively seeking out other women to help us grow in the admirable qualities of biblical femininity. And if you are that older woman, I want to encourage you to consider passing on your experience and wisdom to those behind you. We need it! So, stop a moment and consider your friends. Young women, we should ask ourselves: “Do I have a friend from whom I am learning some aspect of biblical womanhood?” And older women, ask this question: “Am I faithfully imparting biblical womanhood to at least one friend?” And secondly, let’s look for friends who need friends. It’s so easy, isn’t it, to get comfortable with our close friends? While longtime friends are a huge blessing from the Lord, we are also called to reach out to the new person and the lonely. “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,” exhorts Hebrews 13:1-2. Remember what it was like to be new or not know anyone? To see other women chatting excitedly and to have no one to talk to? To choose our friends carefully means we must guard against selfishness and laziness. So let’s take a look around us: “Who is one woman I should reach out to?” It can be as simple as introducing ourselves to a visitor at church, or inviting a quiet woman out for coffee, or including someone new at our weekly lunch with friends. May we all commit to helping new friends not feel new for very long. Let’s not miss out on these two great friendship opportunities. Somehow I think we may all be surprised to find that we are the ones that end up with the good end of the deal.
How about our friendships? In addition to family, who are we to pursue? Proverbs 12:26 tells us that: “The righteous should choose his friends carefully” (NKJV). What does that mean? A brief look at Scripture gives us a good grid whereby we can evaluate our friendships. It tells us exactly what kind of friends we are to have. First, we should have friends that “sharpen.” Our idea of a best friend might be someone who’s easy to get along with, shares our opinions on fashion and food, finishes our sentences, sticks by us in the rough times, and is free to hang out on a Friday night. All plus-points of course (especially the food part) but Scripture says there’s a friend quality of much greater value. A friend we can’t afford to do without. The best of friends, according to Proverbs 27:17, is one who sharpens us as “iron sharpens iron” (NKJV). Hebrews 10:24 tells us that this friend is one who “[stirs us] up…to love and good works.” We need to have at least one-and preferably many-friends who inspire us to serve, provoke us to love, help us to grow in godliness, correct us, strengthen our faith, and spur us on to passion for the Savior. Got any friends like this? Maybe you simply need to take a current relationship in a new direction. Invite your friends to point out your sin, encourage you in the gospel, and stir you up to love and good deeds. Ask them to become friends that sharpen. But maybe, as we assess the spiritual maturity of our friends, we realize that we need to add some godly friends. This may require a step or two outside the old comfort zone. But even if it’s a little awkward at first, we need to initiate friendships with people we’re confident will sharpen us. Tomorrow, we’ll look at more great friendship deals of the single season.
It’s time to take a look at the second great deal of the single season: Relationships. Women are, for the most part, relational creatures. Our world is often centered on family and friends. Yet, we are often more passive and receptive than we are intentional and purposeful in our relationships. We may allow people to drift in and out of our lives. We don’t usually slow down to consider why we pursue certain friendships or neglect others. Emotions and feelings often dictate the way we go about our relationships. If people are so important and consume such a big chunk of our time, then we must stop and prayerfully consider our relational priorities in light of God’s priorities. Do our relationships—the time we spend with others—bring glory to God? Are we investing our lives in the people God has called us to love and serve? Tomorrow we’ll consider the question: “How does the single woman display her God-given femininity in her relationships with men?”
There is one more question we must add to our list of fellowship questions, and it is the most important one of all:
How are you preaching the gospel to yourself every day?
Milton Vincent, author of The Gospel Primer makes the case for why the gospel is vital to Christian love and fellowship:
“The greatest gift I can give to my fellow-Christians is
the gospel itself. Indeed, I love my fellow-Christians not simply
because of the gospel, but I love them best when I am loving them with
the gospel! And I do this not merely by speaking gospel words to them,
but also by living before them and generously relating to them in a
gospel manner. Imparting my life to them in this way, I thereby
contribute to their experience of the power, the Spirit, and the full
assurance of the gospel. By preaching the gospel to myself every day, I
mature the bond that unites me with my brothers and sisters for whom
Christ died, and I also keep myself well-versed in the raw materials
with which I may actively love them in Christ.”
Mr. Vincent references 1 Thessalonians 2:18 where Paul tells the church that: “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.”
We may say that our friends are “very dear
to us;” but if we do not live in the good of the gospel, we stifle the
source and limit the scope of our love for them. May this motivate us
to preach the gospel to ourselves every day—so that we can “actively
love” our friends.
Marsha, a reader and seminary wife, wrote to tell us that she and a friend are going to begin “holding each other accountable to the tough things of the faith.” They are comprising a list of helpful questions and she wanted to know if we had any to add to their collection.
Several years ago, we put together a list of questions to encourage fellowship among women: to provoke one another to pursue Christ-like character and cultivate biblical womanhood.
We hope these questions get you started, Marsha. And for all our readers, we hope they spark many Christ-honoring girl talks!
Describe your current practice of the spiritual disciplines.
What is a passage of Scripture you have been meditating on recently?
What fruit of the Spirit are you cultivating?
What sin are you seeking to weaken?
How can I pray for you?
Here is an evidence of grace that I observe in your life.
How are you seeking to grow in expressing biblical femininity?
Each day, the topics we address on this blog may only apply to a slice of our audience. But when it comes to the topic of conflict, everyone can relate. Whether you’re a teenager with siblings or a parent with teenagers, a boss with employees or an employee with co-workers, a wife or one of the many husbands and fathers who read our blog. Whether you are five or fifty-five, you know all about relational conflict.
But just as we have all experienced conflict, so God’s Word offers hope to all of us in conflict. There is no marital strife, parent-child hostility, or relational discord that is too complicated for God’s wisdom, too persistent for God’s mercy or too difficult for God’s grace.
In an article entitled “Cravings and Conflicts” my dad unpacks the timeless and universal wisdom of James 4 to give us hope for resolving quarrels and fights. Even if you aren’t in a conflict right now, you still need this truth. Because, as Dad observes, there’s most certainly a conflict headed your way soon.
So, if you’re unprepared for the inevitable conflict or hopeless in the midst of conflict, be sure to read this article and receive fresh guidance and hope for resolving conflict.
Twenty-five years ago a single woman named Kathy Houghton came into our home for a church hospitality. After just a few hours, my sister and I were so attached to her that shortly thereafter my parents asked if she would babysit us on a regular basis. From then on Aunt Kathy—as we began to call her—became a part of our family. I remember her not just as a babysitter: she was our “fun coordinator,” constantly planning creative outings. An evening with Aunt Kathy was always a memorable event. Fast-forward a few years. Aunt Kathy married a godly man named John. Together they adopted three beautiful children: Gabe, Joe, and Amanda. Then it was Nicole’s and my turn to fill the babysitter position, although I’m not sure we were ever quite as fun as Aunt Kathy! For the past eighteen years we have had the privilege of watching these young children become godly teenagers. Today, the babysitting role has changed hands once again, and now Amanda sits for my boys. My kids always have a blast when she comes over. They affectionately call her “De-da.” Though my mom, being the wonderful grandma that she is, watches the boys for our date night, Amanda makes it possible for me to serve alongside Brian in various ministry responsibilities. Kathy’s willingness to serve our family all those years ago built lasting ties between her family and ours. As a single woman, she opted to give up precious free time in order to care for three little girls. The ultimate outcome was a special friendship between Kathy, my mom and us girls. And now that friendship extends to her daughter Amanda and my children. So who can you serve today? You never know—it might just be the start of a life-long friendship.
A dear friend of mine is walking through some relational challenges at present. With a longing to encourage, I emailed the following quote—a favorite of mine—to her today. I know for me, I am quick to sinfully judge or become bitter when I feel someone has sinned against me. Yet I need to be swift to see God’s hand behind any wrong—whether it is real or only imagined. (How many times have I made uncharitable judgments of others only to find out later that I was mistaken?!) These words of Jonathan Edwards have helped me to get my eyes off others (and myself!) and to look to God. If you are facing difficulties in a relationship—whether it is with a co-worker, a friend or even a family member—I pray this 18th century quote will provide you with a Godward perspective today:
Love to God disposes men to see his hand in everything; to own him as the governor of the world, and the director of providence; and to acknowledge his disposal in everything that takes place. And the fact, that the hand of God is a great deal more concerned in all that happens to us than the treatment of men is, should lead us, in a great measure, not to think of things as from men, but to have respect to them chiefly as from God—as ordered by his love and wisdom, even when their immediate source may be the malice or heedlessness of a fellow-man. And if we indeed consider and feel that they are from the hand of God, then we shall be disposed meekly to receive and quietly to submit to them, and to own that the greatest injuries received from men are justly and even kindly ordered of God, and so be far from any ruffle or tumult of mind on account of them. (Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits, pp. 79-80)
Nicole has an article on Crosswalk.com’s family channel on the subject of mother-daughter conflict. However, mothers and daughters aren’t the only ones who may experience strife in their relationship. We are sinful people living and working and doing church with other sinful people. The reality of conflict is something we are all too familiar with.
Sadly, we are far less familiar with the grace God gives to those who respond to conflict with humility. In his message “Cravings and Conflicts” on which Nicole’s article is based, my husband examines James 4 and God’s truth that transforms our conflicts. The bad news is that conflict is much worse than we think. But the great news is that it is also simpler and easier to resolve conflict than we think, because of Jesus Christ.
So if you are presently experiencing relational discord of any kind, read this article, listen to this message, and find God’s solution to conflict.