“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: ...” Prov. 18:24
I can’t say enough about the importance of relationships–especially those in the church. When I was saved I was fortunate enough to be in a church where there were several young couples with whom I quickly developed a close relationship. I’ve often said, “I couldn’t backslide if I wanted to. If I missed a service someone was on the phone wanting to know why. Had I missed two services there would have been a knock at the door”. Nearly every week our families did something together and after nearly every service we either went to someone’s house or had folks over to our house. Our lives were so intertwined that we were all affected by the actions of the others. Sadly,we don’t see that much anymore. I’m convinced that if every church member today had relationships like that the results would be amazing. Why don’t we?
We hear a lot of talk about people wanting to have friends and they usually blame everyone but themselves if they don’t.. The problem is that while they wish for them they don’t work for them. Considering their lack of effort you would think it’s not a big deal, but I want to remind you how important this is. If people don’t connect they will either drop out, be dwarfed in their spiritual growth, or be defeated by some sin. So this isn’t something we can approach with a take it or leave it attitude. We need one another. and we need to do everything in our power to connect with others. The church is like a body and every member is important. But making friends is difficult for a lot of folks.
There are some people who just naturally have a personality that makes it easy for them to connect with others. But for others, making friends is terribly difficult. It would be great if everyone reached out to people like this, but far too often they don’t. Although it is no excuse, people today are generally so busy with their own family and friends that they feel they don’t have time to reach out to others. Some are simply “loners” by choice–they just want to be left alone. But, whatever the cause, some get lost in the crowd, left out in the cold, left to fend for themselves. It is a shame that no one reaches out to them, and I suspect that we all, to some extent, are guilty of neglecting or ignoring these folks. But that’s not the whole story. While it is easy to place all the blame on others, sometimes the friendless complainant needs to accept some of the responsibility. There can be several reasons why they don’t have close friends. Such as—
Some people expect too much. It is as though they want everyone to be their best friend. They want everyone’s attention all the time–the star attraction at every event. They expect the other person to make the first move, to seek them out, and pursue a relationship with them. Then they expect you to always be available for the things they want to do.
Some are offensive. In many cases people have an attitude that makes them repulsive to others. Some take advantage of people and merely use them to get what they want. Or they are living a very carnal lifestyle that causes others to avoid them. This list could go on and on, but you get the point. It isn’t safe or pleasant to associate with some people. While we ought to be friendly toward these folks, that doesn’t mean we should develop a close relationship with them. If godly people refuse to embrace you as a friend maybe you ought to examine your own life rather than blaming them.
Some make no effort. They expect everyone else to come to them and fawn over them. It doesn’t work that way. If you want friends you have to show yourself friendly. Building and maintaining relationships takes time and effort. To have friends you have to take advantage of opportunities to be with people, you have to get involved. In addition to the regular services at church, you ought to attend meetings, activities, etc. that will bring you into contact with others. Get involved in ministry. Working together has a way of drawing us together in a close knit group. I’ve heard people complain about the church being unfriendly and not having any friends when the real problem is that they haven’t made any effort to befriend others. They have never invited anyone out to lunch after the service or into their home, and then wonder why they don’t have any friends. I can guarantee you that there is someone who is lonely and would love it if you showed an interest in them. If you aren’t going to reach out to others quit complaining about others not reaching out to you!
One final word. There are those who fail miserably on both sides of this issue—don’t give up because of them. Some have unfairly complained about no one wanting to be their friend, when they haven’t made any effort to be a friend, and others have indeed been snubbed by those who should have reached out to them. But, if you are wise you will do what is right regardless of their wrong doing. Don’t allow their failure to cause your fall. Their weakness makes your strength all the more important. We each are accountable for our own actions. We can’t control what the other person does, but we can change our attitude. The best way to have a friend is to be a friend. Think about it!