What do Christian faithfulness and Christian friendship have in common? Part 2: True encouragement in friendship

In Part 1 we talked about Christian faithfulness and how obedience in our work glorifies God. One of the ways our work can be God-honoring is through it’s implications for how it affects the church, too!

I’ve been learning through this webinar that one of the greatest ways we can encourage others around us is by staying faithful ourselves to what we’ve been given to do! When each of us faithfully keeps our post, we end up working together in a Christian community in a way that creates quite a force because we’re all facing the same direction and moving in that same direction for the Kingdom of God. It’s when we stop and want to look inward too much, or want to look at each other too much, that we often neglect to do the work God has called us to do.

I pray this encourages the faithful woman out there who feels like she’s missing out on a different, cultural idea of what it means to be in friendship with others. Although moments like this can be a gift to be enjoyed, true Christian friendship is not a bunch of women sitting around staring at each other, expressing feelings at leisure and drinking coffee or wine. Although moments of conversation can spur us on, it should always be for that purpose – to spur us on to work, not to more leisure! The goal is not a cabin in the mountains for days and days, or hours upon hours on the beach with a bunch of girlfriends with nothing to do. Our goal is to be faithful to honor and glorify the Lord with the work we’ve been given. We can pursue rest in the midst of that through true rest in the Lord in weekly corporate worship and daily time in God’s word, understanding that Christ is sufficient to keep us going forward in faithfulness.

And how does this plodding along faithfully fit into friendship? How does my faithfulness at my own post do anything for my Christian friendships? Let me give an example of how God revealed this to me this past week.

Ten years ago I met a girl who signed up for one of our iGo mission trips. About six years later, we reconnected through health and fitness resources, which began a relationship where she asked me to mentor her for a while. This eventually led to God allowing us to open our home for her to live in our home for a few years. She then became married and after about a year of marriage, she and her husband decided to move overseas as missionaries. They’ve now been in their new city for less than two months. Needless to say, our time together has varied from season to season. We spent a lot more time physically together when she was single, less once she got married, and our time together is now nonexistent since she has moved halfway around the world and is about to have her first child.

Lately, we’ve discussed the culture shock she’s experiencing, the change in community, the desire for friendship and the difficulties that come with such a transition. I began to share with her this idea of faithfulness at our posts. Almost simultaneously, we began to recognize how each of us are in places far apart, with very different details as far as what talents we’ve been given, but it’s the faithfulness of each of us that is encouraging the other to continue on with our work. She may never understand how much her faithfulness with what’s in front of her encourages me to be faithful in my own work, but it does! It makes a difference! And so even halfway across the world from each other, it matters! This is how Christian friendship should function. This is what matters.

When I think of Christian friends who have encouraged me the most in what matters the most (faithfully worshiping and serving the Lord), they are most often friends who I don’t see that often. Why? Because they are busy being faithful with their work!

It matters less than we think how much time we get to sit and talk and laugh together (although those moments are gifts from the Lord to be enjoyed!), but it matters far more that we encourage one another through faithfulness at our stations. And when we do get together, may it not be for the purpose of escaping our posts, but instead for the purpose to exhort one another to keep at our work faithfully! That makes all the difference. That sustains. That encourages. That matters and is true Christian friendship. Let’s not underestimate it.

So, if one of the most important things we can do is be faithful with our work, let’s conclude with two main principles. Firstly, let’s look to the steadfast love and faithfulness of our Lord. How? The same action step as the last blog post – let’s read our Bibles! Our Bibles are filled with these attributes of who the Lord is!

“As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!” (Psalm 40:11).

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15).

It is only through our Master’s steadfast love and faithfulness that we are able to be faithful in our work. This is the only way this is possible in our own hearts. We cannot conjure up faithfulness on our own, but through understanding and knowing his steadfast love and faithfulness, we can better reflect who he is in this manner. So let’s spend time reading our Bibles. Let’s spend time getting to know our Master. This is how we reflect him.

“All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies” (Psalm 25:10).

“For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness” (Psalm 26:3).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Secondly, let’s be encouraged in knowing that our faithfulness in our work, which comes from the Lord, also comes with a promise – it’s not in vain.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

When you are working for the Lord, no matter how fruitless your work may seem, you can bank on this promise from the Lord – it’s not in vain! What a gift! What a reason to continue on with steadfastness! Cling to this promise and this hope in what your Master is doing with your work. We can trust him and he is a good, good Master. May we honor him and reflect him by serving through the opportunities he gives us, and in the process, we also encourage others to be faithful and God-honoring as well.

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