Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Friendship for God's Glory

Leslie Basham: Are you willing to die for your friend? Amy Baker says that’s not the real test of friendship.

Amy Baker: Sometimes it is tempting to think, “Lord, it would be a whole lot easier to die right now for this person than to have to invest the energy to go to the store for them, or do this, or make a meal, or mow their yard for them. It would be a whole lot easier just to lay down my life for them.”

One of the things I think we’ve got to pray for is—first of all, that God will make us sensitive to those needs. Then, once we actually see them—as God answers that prayer with a “Yes,” and we become more sensitive to them—that we will be willing to do the hard work to follow through.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Thursday, July 3. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I want you to pick up the phone and call a friend and invite her to tune in with you to Revive Our Hearts because this week we’re going to be talking about friendship: What a godly friendship looks like, how we can have godly friendships, how to have friendships that glorify God, and some of the threats and obstacles to friendship.

If you’re a woman, I know that you’re interested in this topic because women were made to be relational. Not that men aren’t, but there’s something special in our hearts as women that longs for meaningful, intimate, godly, warm friendships. We’re going to explore some of those topics this week.

Our guest to help us discuss this is biblical counselor Dr. Amy Baker. She’s been on the staff of Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries for many years. She’s a woman with a warm heart, a heart for the Lord, a love for people, and a love for God’s Word.

Amy, I so appreciate the way, as you’ve been on Revive Our Hearts in the past, that you have always pointed our hearts back to the Word of God and the ways of God. Thank you, for joining us again on Revive Our Hearts.

Dr. Amy Baker: It’s great to be here. Thanks.

Nancy: I feel, even though we have not known each other very long, that we are becoming friends. One of the keys to that, of course, is that we share common values—your heart for the Lord and your heart for His Word. That certainly is the basis for the strongest of friendships.

Amy: Isn’t it amazing how quickly that can develop when you both have the same goals, when you’re both on the same page? Although you’re right, we haven’t known each other for that long, it’s very easy to say, “I’m enjoying this fellowship with another believer!”

Nancy: Amy, I know you’ve counseled with a lot of women. I hear from a lot of women through Revive Our Hearts who are lonely; they are longing for friendships; they’re longing for more intimate, meaningful relationships.

  • What is the goal of friendship?
  • If we think about doing friendship God’s way, what’s the objective?
  • What’s the purpose of having friendships?

Amy: When we think about doing friendship God’s way, it’s easy to get it backwards. It’s easy to think about my desire for friendships. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But sometimes we get it backwards. We think about what friendship is going to do for me and the blessings that will come to me, as they will, in genuine biblical friendships.

But to have that kind of view of friendship would not be consistent with God’s Word because all throughout God’s Word, God talks about the goal of our life—it is not about me; it’s about Him. It’s about bringing glory and honor to Him. One of the ways that we do that is by ministering to others.

If we’re going to apply God’s Word and His principles to this particular area of our lives and develop godly, genuine friendships, I believe that that means our focus is going to have to be on reaching out to minister to others in order to bring glory and honor to God. That then becomes the definition of a genuine friendship.

It’s not about what I get from it. It’s about me giving to people; ministering to meet needs in their lives so that God can be glorified.

Nancy: Isn’t that what Proverbs tells us? If a person wants to have friends they must be friendly. They must reach out.

Amy: That friendliness means I’m looking for ways to serve, to minister to people and come alongside of them and just share what God has done—not in words, but to treat them the way God has treated me.

Nancy: Often we have this emptiness, this ache, this longing in our hearts to have a close friend, to have someone who’s a kindred spirit. I know that’s what a lot of people are looking for in marriage and then are disappointed when they get into marriage and find that there are parts of their female heart that no man, no matter how wonderful he is, can reach into and touch.

There is this unfulfilled longing. If I allow that unfulfilled longing to control my life, to devastate my life, to leave me miserable or depressed, it’s really an evidence that I’m going about it backwards as you said.

Amy: I think what you just said points out that there is an underlying presupposition here. There’s an underlying assumption that in order for us to have genuine friendships with others we’ve got to begin with a genuine friendship with our Savior. It becomes a futile exercise and very, very frustrating if that isn’t established first.

When we think about godly friendships, we’ve got to think of, first of all, the One who came to be a friend to us and made all this possible in the first place. We need to think of how His focus was not on coming to earth and spending time with humans because it was going to do something for Him.

His focus in coming was to minister, to sacrifice for us, to make it possible for us now to not only have salvation, but to have a different life, a life that can bring glory and honor to Him right now.

Nancy: In Ephesians chapter 5, the first couple of verses there talk about that very thing. It says that we’re to “walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (verse 2). In that friendship and that relationship, it’s God doing all the giving.

He’s the one who gave Himself up for us. It’s a sacrificial love. It’s a serving love. It’s a giving love, and as you said, not because He has anything to gain from it. He’s doing all the giving.

Amy: Exactly. What a wonderful example for us to say, “I want to be that kind of friend to others, out of my gratitude, out of my love for God and what He’s done for me—that He would do this. I want to show my love for Him; I want to show my gratitude. I want to learn to be that kind of friend to others.

Nancy: Two cautions as it relates to friendship. One is that we would not try to have friendships on a human level without first having established an intimate friendship and relationship with God Himself.

If that’s the case then we’re going to find ourselves trying to use friends as a substitute for God in our lives. The Old Testament word for that is idolatry: something or someone that replaces God in my life. To expect people to meet needs that only God Himself can meet and that God created us to receive from Him, puts us in a place of inevitable disappointment.

Amy: Exactly. Frustration and hopelessness and loneliness.

Nancy: That whole word loneliness then leads us to realize the other caution we’ve just touched on which: I would be in friendships for the purpose of what I can get rather than what I can give.

It’s interesting, when I talk to lonely people—as I hear frequently from women saying, “I go to church. I sit by myself. No one reaches out to me. No one comes to visit me. No one picks up the phone and calls me.”

I think all of us, as women, have had those feelings. We want to be the one being reached out to, not always the one having to do the reaching out. But if I let myself go down that road, it becomes a selfish pity party way of living, that ultimately is going to lead to depression and destruction.

Amy: It’s just a downward spiral that gets worse and worse.

Nancy: We see that God’s model of friendships and the kinds of relationships He wants us to have with Him and with others is a giving relationship—not in it for what we can get. Amy, what are some of the things that hold us back from having those kinds of giving, loving, serving, selfless relationships?

Amy: I think one of them would probably be fear. Think about developing new relationships. We talked about the person who would struggle with sitting by themselves in church; no one calls them; that kind of thing. Now they decide they want to work on that. “I want to be the one who’s reaching out. I’m going to sit with new people in church,” or, “I’m going to make phone calls.”

That can be scary for a number of reasons, on a number of fronts, right?

  1. What am I going to say to this person?
  2. Let’s say I do reach out to this person—what will this person think of me?
  3. If this person gets to know me and they get beyond a superficial level and recognize that I’m a sinner just like everybody else, then what will their opinion be of me?
  4. Will this person use me?
  5. Will I be hurt by them? All kinds of things.

Nancy: Will I be rejected? They may not like who I am.

Amy: Yes. I think one of the things that hinders us is fear. In Proverbs 29:25 we’re told, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”

I think the snare in this particular situation is loneliness—that when that fear of man dominates us, the snare, the trap, that we end up landing in is loneliness. One of the hindrances to developing friendships would be fear.

Nancy: How do you deal with that fear?

Amy: We have a good God and He, in His Word, gives us everything that we need for life and godliness. Let’s think about what on earth does God’s Word have to say? What am I going to do about this fear?

The emotion itself is not something I necessarily have to get rid of; although, we’d sure like to sometimes. But in 1 John 4:18 we’re told, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.”

Now how does it do that? How do I make that practical? I understand that’s what it says, but how do I make that practical?

Just as I cannot fold my arms and stretch them out at one and the same moment, I can’t at one and the same moment think, What’s going to happen to me? How am I going to be hurt? (which is fear) and at the same moment think, How can I give? How can I love? How can I minister? (which is love focused).

Perfect love drives out fear by focusing on and ministering to someone else.

Can they exist very closely? Certainly. I can be one moment thinking, “What’s going to happen to me?” and the next moment be thinking, “I really need to be thinking about ministering to others. I really need to be thinking about them and their needs, not myself.”

But that’s going to be something I can choose to do myself. I can work on it. I can grow in that area. As I do that, I’m going to see again and again and again God’s Word is true. Perfect love drives out fear. There is no fear in love because love is thinking about others, not about what’s going to happen to me.

Nancy: Rather than focusing on the fear, what we want to focus on is letting the love of Christ fill our hearts and displace and replace that fear of man. Now our motivation is, “How can I serve? How can I love? How can I give?”

As we do, we find we’re freed up from that fear.

Amy: Exactly.

Nancy: What we’re talking about here in friendships applies on a whole host of fronts, including in the context of marriage. As you think about your friendship with your mate, perhaps feeling like it’s a bit lacking or not all that it should be—maybe you’re not getting all that you had hoped for or wanted in that marriage.

This is a powerful principle here. Ask yourself, “Am I in this to get my needs met, to be satisfied, to be fulfilled? Or am I willing to take the place that the Lord Jesus took when He came to this earth?" That is to be a servant, to be a lover, to be a giver, to put the other person’s interests ahead of my own.

As you allow God to fill your heart with that kind of love for your mate, for your children, for your parents, for your fellow workers, for your friends at church and in the community—on every front, then you’ll find that these are healthy and wholesome friendships that really do reflect the glory of God.

Amy: We’ve talked about the goal of our friendships being—not “What am I going to get from this friendship?” but—“What can I give?”

I think about a friend of mine who some time ago went to visit a young mother at the hospital. Her infant had been hospitalized with a virus and that mother was there just staying with the infant.

While she was there, my friend said to that young mother, “Can I go down to the cafeteria and get you something? If this is going to be a long stay, you’re welcome to come and stay in my guest bedroom or at least come over, if you don’t want to leave your child, and shower and rest for a little while.” Just ministering; thinking about needs and ministering.

Nancy: Practical needs.

Amy: When she did that, the young mother just burst into tears. She said to her, “I’ve been in churches all my life and no one has ever been this nice to me.”

I’m certain that my friend, when she did that was not thinking, “I’m being heroic. I’m doing something that no one else has ever done before and probably will never do again.”

She was just trying to think through, “What are the needs of this young mother who’s here at the hospital with her child?” She tried to think, “If I were there what would I need?” Then she tried to think about ways that she could minister and meet those needs. That was so important to the recipient.

If we’re going to be God’s kind of friends, that’s one of the things we’re going to have to learn to do. We’re going to have to learn to think through:

  • First of all, I’ve got to be a learner. I’m never going to be able to reach out and meet needs in the lives of others if I don’t have any idea what those needs are.
  • One of the ways to develop genuine friendships is that I’ve got to learn how to interact with people so I can even get the opportunity to learn what their needs are. That means I’m going to have to be friendly.
  • I’m going to have to reach out to people. I’m going to have to be approachable myself.
  • I’m going to have to learn to ask good questions and then listen so that I get the opportunity to even learn what needs are so that I can then look for ways to meet those needs.

Nancy: A starting place in that is to ask the Lord to give us sensitivity and wisdom and to say, “Lord, give me eyes to see the needs of the people around me.”

It’s amazing how when we go to church or we go to work, we rub shoulders with people. We pass them and then we discover months later that person’s been struggling in their marriage, it’s falling apart; or they’ve got a major issue with a rebellious child.

We were with them everyday, and we didn’t know they had those needs. I wonder if we would ask God to open our eyes, give us sensitivity, give us alertness to the signs in people’s lives. God does give wisdom when we ask for it and I think that’s a great starting place.

Amy: In my life, I find I also have to ask Him. Once I recognize the opportunities, I have to ask Him to help me follow through on them.

Christ says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Sometimes it is tempting to think, “Lord, it would be a whole lot easier to die right now for this person than to have to invest the energy to go to the store for them, or do this, or make a meal, or mow their yard for them. It would be a whole lot easier just to lay down my life for them.”

One of the things I think we’ve got to pray for is—first of all, that God will make us sensitive to those needs. Then, once we actually see them—as God answers that prayer with a “Yes,” and we become more sensitive to them—that we will be willing to do the hard work to follow through.

I think one of the things in this whole area of friendship is that we’ve got to recognize—this is an area that’s going to take effort. It’s going to take hard work, and it’s going to take perseverance.

Nancy: It is going to take time.

Amy: Yes. We often want to jump in and develop relationships. We move some place new or whatever. This widow who now is in a new phase of life and even though she may not have moved it’s new.

It’s going to take time to learn to minster in new ways. She’s going to have opportunities that she didn’t before. But it’s going to take perseverance, and it’s going to take time. Just recognizing that, is going to be a part of it.

Nancy: You talked, Amy, about asking people questions so that we can get to know them—so we can get to know what their needs are. What are some of the kinds of questions that are helpful for surfacing what those needs are? What can we ask each other?

Amy: As I thought about that, I thought, what could somebody new ask that I’d be willing to tell them? If somebody jumps in right away and they want to know what are your greatest needs because “I want to jump in there and meet them,” I’m probably not ready to tell them that yet.

I tried to think through, “What are some things I am willing to talk with people about?” For most people, we’re pretty willing to talk about our work, about our families, about where we live—those kinds of things.

As we do that, we’re probably going to gain opportunities to learn more things.

I would probably initially tell you, “Do you know what? I am a staff member at Faith Baptist Church and the Ministry Resource Director there.” I’m probably not going to tell you first what are the hard parts and what I need you to pray for me about.

But as you say, “How’s it going, Amy, as that resource director?” I can say, “Well, today our computers shut down.” Once you tell me I’m going to have to remember, so I can then follow up on it later.

I don’t know if others are like me but it really takes effort on my part if I’m going to remember what I’m told and not be in my mind already moving on to the next thing that is on my to-do list or in this conversation or whatever.

Nancy: Of course, if we’re genuinely interested in others, that will help us remember.

I can remember my dad telling us as we were growing up, “In conversation, make sure you don’t talk too much about yourself.” He said, “People don’t want to hear you talk about yourself. They want to talk about themselves.”

I still remember that. But it helps in conversations to be asking questions.

  • What are you going through?
  • What’s on your heart?
  • What is making you happy these days?
  • How is God blessing you?

I do think that one of the most valuable questions I’ve experienced in friendships, is learning to ask others and having others ask me,

  • How can I pray for you?

I’ve discovered even occasionally, in a restaurant, I’ll ask a waiter or a waitress I’ve never met before. I’ll say, “We’re going to pray in just a moment and thank God for our food. We’d like to pray for you. Is there anything that you would like for us to pray about for you?”

I’ve seen that question even with total non-believers really catch somebody off guard, first of all. You’d think it would make them really uncomfortable but generally they’re blessed to think that someone would care enough about them.

You’ll find them opening up parts of their heart that you never would have heard just by asking that simple question, “How can I pray for you?”

Amy: We’re back to what we’ve talked about is the goal of relationships at that point. What you’re doing at that point is saying, “It’s not about me and what can I get from you. Here you are serving me, and I’m not making it about what can I get from you. We’re making the goal here how can I love? How can I minister? How can I give to you?”

As we begin to do that, I think we’ve communicated something about what God has done for us. That is very winsome and very attractive.

Nancy: God has put people in your life. There are people that you work with. There are people that you go to school with. There are people who live in your apartment complex or your neighborhood, people that are in your own family—it may be extended family that you’ve never really taken time to get to know.

Ask God to show you:

  • Who are the people in my life who need a friend?
  • Who are the people in my life that You want me to befriend?
  • What are their needs?
  • How do You want me to begin to reach out to those needs?

Don’t put yourself into the guilt trip of thinking, “I have to meet every need of every person in my life,” and then getting overwhelmed and not doing anything. It’s so important that we ask the Lord and we’re sensitive to His leading in our lives for this season of our lives,

  • Who are the people that You want me to reach out to?

As you ask the Lord and as He shows you, then ask Him for courage and grace and perseverance to follow through in doing what He’s saying.

Now there’s probably going to be somebody in your life, today, in the next 24-hours, that God is going to put in your path and He’s going to say, “I want you to be a friend in this moment to that person.”

You may feel like you don’t have a friend in the world. You may be extremely lonely. You may be longing for somebody to reach out to you. But I want to challenge you, be the kind of friend to someone else, today, that God has been to you. Then watch how God will meet your needs as you’re faithful to reach out to the needs of others.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray. Friendship goes beyond emotions. It’s a way to show God’s love to other people. Our guest, Dr. Amy Baker, has been showing us why developing friendships has so much potential for building God’s kingdom.

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It’s okay for friends to be honest with each other—kind but honest. Are you open to being challenged and held accountable by your friends? Hear more about that tomorrow when Dr. Amy Baker joins us again.

Now Nancy’s back to pray that we’ll become the type of friend we heard about today.

Nancy: Father, how I thank You for the precious friends that You have put into my life. What an example they’ve set for me. People who have called and written notes of encouragement and served in practical ways and do it day after day without seeking credit or glory or anything in return, people who are real givers.

Lord, I pray that You’d make me that kind of friend. Show each of us, today, someone around us whose life You want us to invest in. Make us willing to pay the price, to take the time, to do the hard work and to persevere, to give and give and give and give into relationships, so that we can cultivate friendships that bring glory to You. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless otherwise noted.

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