Going Deeper with the Message:
The Infinite Value of a Soul
by: Ben Biles
On Sunday, we talked about the characteristics of a true friend: love, loyalty, sacrifice, and honesty. This morning, I wanted to highlight the characteristic of love. We understand that love has many different facets. Love between a married couple will look different from the love between siblings and parents. Even more so is the love between friends, for this one seems to be the least permanent. Friends can flow in and out of our life depending on the circumstances. Yet, the love between friends need not be less powerful and impactful.
C.S. Lewis once wrote that there are only two things in life that are eternal: the Word of God and the souls of men. Because we are eternal beings, we all have infinite value in the eyes of our Creator and our value is reflected in the way he loves us infinitely. Throughout the Bible, God calls us to love one another in the same way. Due to each person’s infinite value, we should show them an equally infinite love.
Yet, as humans, we have the tendency is downplay the infinite value attached to each and every person. To us, they just seem like normal people, each with strengths and weaknesses. We value the strengths, but tolerate the weaknesses. Often, we love people based on their good qualities and reject them based on their negative qualities. Not so with God. He loves us even in the midst of our sin, brokenness, and failure. When we begin to see people in the way that God sees them, we understand why God commands us so often in Scripture to love one another, for this is the only appropriate way for people to treat each other.
Therefore, our friendships carry a responsibility to love that is far greater than we often imagine. Proverbs 17:17 says that “a friend loves at all times.” In John 15:13, Jesus explains that the greatest form of love is seen in laying down our lives for our friends. Both of these verses place a high calling on friendship. If we want to be better friends, our love must be unconditional and sacrificial, for these show our understanding of their true, infinite value.
Living out the Message:
The Friction of Friendship
By Ben Biles
No matter the quantity and quality of your current friendships, we all could use a little improvement in our ability and willingness in being a good friend. As Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” The process of iron sharpening iron causes friction, but leaves each piece sharper than before and able to be used for greater purposes. In the same way, our friendships should cause friction. That is, friends should be honest with each other, calling out the sin in each other’s lives. This requires each person to be intentionally vulnerable and transparent enough to be open to criticism.
However, we are often reluctant to be vulnerable with others because we don’t want to expose our weaknesses and insecurities. Our pride prevents us from revealing our insufficiencies for that might damage our friend’s perception of our supposed greatness. C.S. Lewis calls pride “the complete anti-God state of mind.” The prideful person struggles in their faith because they fail to see where their sin damages their relationship with God. They don’t feel the need for a Savior. Pride also damages us because it masks the areas in which we need to be challenged by our friends. The more we allow pride to dominate the way we think and act, the more we prevent our friendships from growing us.
If we truly want to build great friendships, we have to cultivate our humility and vulnerability. We need to lay aside our desire to be seen in the best possible light. Instead, we need to expose our weaknesses and allow our friends the space to be honest with us. When we do that, we are sharpened and are able to be used for greater purposes in God’s plan.
This week, sit down with a friend and be honest about where you are struggling in your faith. Ask to them for their advice and then have them hold you accountable to growing in areas of weakness. Ask them also to keep you accountable in growing in your relationship with God. If you do, we believe that these friendships and conversations will truly change your life.