I can name several things in my life that have been influential to me spiritually. These include specific events, truths I have heard, and, of course, relationships I have had. I believe that many of the ways that I approach the Lord have been inspired by friends who were passionate about Jesus. Often I noticed my friends’ passion for the Lord and desired that same passion. But it doesn’t end there. I can also name specific ways in which friends have intentionally challenged me toward growth in relationship with God. I hope to learn to do this for other people, and that is why I’m writing about this topic.
I think first about the references in the book of Proverbs to “walking with wise men,” such as verse 13:20. Among other places in the Bible, the book of Proverbs emphasizes the influence our relationships have over our lives. The author repeatedly commands his audience to make wise decisions about relationships because of their powerful effect.
This post was influenced by a sermon by Andy Stanley entitled “Providential Relationships” as part of his “Five Things God Uses” series. In this message, Stanley talked about the potential in our relationships to inspire others to faith in Christ. He used an example of a young boy who pursued an adult couple and through his perseverance and God’s perfect leadership, this couple eventually became followers of Jesus.
I’m taking the idea further than Stanley did, though, and suggesting that relationships are influential for more than just evangelism. This is something I believe we often miss. We ignore opportunities to inspire our friends to a greater love for God. Instead of challenging our friends to more strongly pursue the Lord, we remain stagnant in our relationships and expect to receive inspiration without giving any. Think about this, and you will see that what I’m suggesting is something to which you can relate.
We must inspire our friends. As I suggested above, I have been influenced both by friends who simply were passionate about God and by friends who purposefully challenged me in a specific area of my life. We must do these two things: (1) We must live in such a way that others are inspired toward the Lord, and (2) we must intentionally speak to the places in our friends’ lives in which they could more boldly pursue Him.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds
Hebrews 10:23-24, NAS