Faithfulness in Relationships

Faithfulness: Faithful in Relationships

 

Opener

1)      *Discussion* Have any of you ever had a friend that was always with you when you needed them? Maybe it was someone who had helped you through a financial crisis, stayed at your bedside in a hospital, paid for your rent, or someone who ‘carefronted’ you and helped restore your relationship with God. Describe what that person is like and what he/she means to you.

2)      *Activity* If it would fit your group, find and read the children’s story The Little Red Hen.  Discuss the motivations of the different characters.  Was the red hen justified in her reaction?  Why or why not?

 

Main Points (Choose ONE)

1)      True friendship does not disappear when it becomes inconvenient.

 

Foundations

1)      Galatians 6:1 – “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

a)      Part of being a friend is allowing your friend’s problems to be your own.

i)        “Carry each other’s burdens” means that any problem facing your friend is also your problem.

(1)   It’s not that you stick your nose in where it doesn’t belong, or that you stress about all the problems of the world.

(2)   Rather, it means that you care about the things your friend cares about, even if it wouldn’t affect you otherwise.

ii)      Unfortunately, problems don’t seem to wait until a convenient time; so helping someone else with what’s troubling him/her will often mean that you’re inconvenienced.

b)      “The Law of Christ” is that we love one another.  (See John 13:34.)

i)        We see our relationships—especially our friendships—as things that we choose for our own benefit.  God doesn’t see them that way.

ii)      Our relationships with each other—especially our friendships with other Christians—are given to us by God.

(1)   Gifts always come with obligations (even if it’s just gratitude).  In this case, we have an obligation to love.

(2)   “Love” isn’t just affection.  It’s loyalty.  It’s appreciation.  It’s offering help when help is needed.

c)      One of the best illustrations of friendship out there can be shown in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although you can use this story for a thousand spiritual lessons, it portrays Godly friendship beautifully.

i)        In the Fellowship of the Ring, Sam tells Frodo that Gandalf (who often represents the Holy Spirit, and in one case Christ) charged him to stay with him. “Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee! And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.”

(1)   Often God will put people into our lives and will in fact say, “Don’t you leave him/her!” It’s so important that we as a body of believers are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and are alert when He orders us to truly befriend someone and to be with them no matter what.

(2)   In the Fellowship of the Ring, Sam tells Frodo that Gandalf (who often represents the Holy Spirit, and in one case Christ) charged him to stay with him. “Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee! And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.”

(a)    Often God will put people into our lives and will in fact say, “Don’t you leave him/her!” It’s so important that we as a body of believers are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and are alert when He orders us to truly befriend someone and to be with them no matter what.

ii)      Many would say that the Ring represents sin. Throughout the trilogy many characters are tempted to take the Ring for themselves because it has a seductive power to it. Frodo is the one who had to carry the ring to Mordor, the only place it could be destroyed. He continually reminds the audience that it’s such a weight to carry, and that it was a burden. The closer he got destroying it, the heavier it got. If it weren’t for the undying faithfulness of Sam, Frodo would never have been able to reach the end of his perilous journey and the Ring (sin) would have eventually consumed him. At the end of The Return of the King, when Frodo was about to throw it into the volcano and destroy it, Frodo was overcome by the ring (sin) and tried to keep it. After the Ring is taken from him by Gollum, he tries to destroy it again and nearly falls into the volcano. As he is hanging off the edge by one hand, Sam is right there holding out his hand saying, “Don’t you let go. Reach!!” And Frodo was saved from his destruction.

(1)   We all know people that struggle with certain sins. We see them suffer for it, and we see it slowly, if not quickly, leading them into destruction. And no matter how many times we are there for them telling them to just let it that sin go, they won’t allow God to help them.

(2)   Brothers and sisters, don’t give up on people. Right now you are thinking of that person who is struggling, but we must be there praying, fighting, and saying, “Don’t you let go. REACH!! Reach for the hand of Christ that is being offered to you!”

(3)   It’s not easy, but it’s necessary as a body of believers to always be on the lookout for others and to stick with them until they are ready to repent.

 

Human Struggles

1)      Let’s be real, we get busy. And we get selfish about our schedules, failing to take off the horse blinds when we walk to class. There’s always a test to study for, a class to get to, a show we want to watch, a game we want to get to. We forget that sometimes our schedules don’t really matter to God as much as helping someone get their relationship in order with Him. It’s easy to meet with people if we include them in what we do. Pray for awareness, and a selfless heart.

2)      We forget after a while. In other words, we lose touch and fail to make those connections consistently.

3)      We also get frustrated with friends who continually make the wrong decisions or choices. It’s hard to constantly be telling someone they are messing up their lives, so we sometimes let them go on with their bad choices.  It’s easier to ignore people who are a constant drain on your time and emotions.

 

Application Helps

1)      Pray for the needs in the group.  Then, discuss together how you’re going to provide practical help—“carry each other’s burdens”—until the problems are resolved.

2)      Locate somebody who’s left the group or been absent lately.  Involve them in something your group does this week.

3)      Discuss the circumstances under which being a faithful friend requires doing something that the friend doesn’t like.  How are such situations to be handled?