Tag Archives: friendship

How can I help a friend who’s always being put down by her boyfriend?

Don’t stand by and watch your friend suffer abuse. Yes, this is classified as abuse, and we need to recognize it as such. Anything a person says in an attempt to belittle and control another person is abusive. Your first job is to help your friend understand that love is not supposed to behave this way, and they should not consider dating anyone who hurts them or thinks so little of them.

The Bible says, “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.”[1] An abusive and belittling partner is bad company. Not only is an abusive partner bad company, they are poisonous to your friend’s self-esteem.

If the first step is seeing this type of abuse for what it is, the second step will likely be helping your friend see and embrace that they deserve better than the treatment they are getting.

More than likely your friend will tell you that their partner is not like this all the time. And they probably aren’t. But abusers almost always try to isolate and manipulate their victims. You friend may be fooled by her boyfriend’s charm and attention, but if he has already demonstrated an abusive pattern of behavior, it will only get worse if she continues to allow it.

Helping in these kinds of situations is never easy, but as a good friend you can and should gently and lovingly let her know that she is not alone and that she does not have to take this kind of treatment. She is worth more than that to you and to God.

(adapted from Live Right Now)

[1] 1 Corinthians 15:33 esv

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People Tell Me I Can’t Follow Christ and Be a Loner: Do I Really Need Friends? 

Emotionally healthy people are comfortable spending time alone. They don’t need constant companionship. Bottom line, they enjoy their own company. Granted, some need more time alone than others, but folks that are in good psychological shape regularly escape from the crowds and noise to be alone (Matthew 14:23).

Solitude is valuable, but so is connection with others. After all that God had created and called good, there was one thing He said was not good: that man was alone. Animal and plant life simply weren’t enough to sustain Adam’s need for relationship. So He created Eve for Adam (Genesis 2:18).

We also know that the apostle Paul had many friends (Romans 16:5, 9, 12; Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:1). He loved them deeply and felt rejuvenated by his friendships (1 Corinthians 10:14; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 12:19; Philippians 2:12; 4:1). It’s clear that friendship can be good for the soul (Proverbs 27:9; Ecclesiastes 4:10).

The number of friends we have or the amount of time we spend alone are unique for each of us. We weren’t all created with the same cravings. Like Paul, some prefer lots of friends while others are content with very few, if any, close relationships. Instead of forcing everyone to fit into a specific “community” of believers, we can embrace this diversity as a part of God’s perfect plan for His body (1 Corinthians 12:13-27). We each bring necessary and significant gifts to the body of Christ.

The key is finding the balance between friendship and solitude. Either without the other may mean that a person is running from problems, personal growth, and insight.

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Am I Sinning When I Feel Attracted to Someone of the Opposite Sex?

There is an element of sinfulness that enters into every human thought and desire, a sinfulness that is rooted in the fall. (See the ATQ article How Can Christians Believe that the Human Race Is Depraved?) In a sense, no human desire is untainted with sin. Because an element of evil intrudes into every human interaction and relationship, it is impossible for human beings to achieve absolute purity.

Along with our depravity, our composite physical nature is a factor. Like all animals, humans are physical beings with instinctual sexual/mating desires “hardwired” into us. Because of our instinctual mating desires, it is normal for people to struggle to suppress inappropriate sexual thoughts and feelings towards attractive people of the opposite sex. This is natural.

The Bible makes it clear that although temptation is the result of sin in the sense of it being an aspect of our fallen world, mere temptation isn’t something that God holds us accountable for. Even Jesus experienced temptation (Hebrews 4:15). But though we aren’t accountable for the temptations we experience, the Lord made it clear that we are accountable for sinful responses to temptation—whether it be preferential treatment of the individual or conscious lust (Matthew 5:28-30).

The moment someone consciously sexualizes his admiration of another person’s beauty—transforming admiration into lust—he commits soul-damaging sin that warrants judgment. The willful cultivation of wrongfully sexualized thoughts arouses further destructive sexual feelings that wreak havoc in a person’s spiritual, emotional, and relational life. Sinful responses to instinctive sexual desires increase the power of temptation and result in enslavement to ugly, compulsive behavior.

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How Can I Serve Others Without Feeling Like a Doormat?

No one wants to be a doormat. But if we haven’t put healthy limits in place, we can easily end up feeling used up and stepped on.

Biblical service is not mindless, robot-like obedience to the demands of others. It is intentional and life-giving. The giver and receiver are better people because of the act of compassion. It cultivates unity, closeness, and goodness in others that moves relationships in a positive direction.

It doesn’t always work that way, though. Occasionally, other people won’t appreciate us or they’ll take advantage of our kindness. We can ignore some of these instances, but we shouldn’t close our eyes to a pattern of disrespect or abuse.

We should be honest and, out of love for ourselves and others, refuse to give in to selfish demands or egotistical attitudes. Let’s not mistake Jesus words about turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) to mean that we overlook sin. We should refuse to accept disrespectful or abusive treatment so that we can restore our dignity and the other person has hope for change through repentance (Romans 6; 1 Corinthians 5:1-5).

Both Jesus and the apostle Paul are known for standing up for what is right and resisting evil. Jesus didn’t passively stroll through the temple while it became a “den of robbers” (Matthew 21:12-13). Paul exercised his rights as a Roman citizen and asked for a public display of regret when he was illegally arrested without a trial (Acts 16:36-40). He also advised the Corinthian church to kick a man out of their congregation who was sleeping with his father’s wife! We can’t pretend that a pattern of serious sin won’t affect our ability to serve.

Jesus set limits on his service to others by paying attention to his own needs as well as the needs of others. He healed the sick and fed the hungry, but he also made sure he got the food, rest, and time with his heavenly Father he needed so that he would be healthy to care for others (John 4:5; Mark 11:12-13; 6:30-32).  We simply can’t ignore our own needs if we want to be available to help others. We must have physical nourishment, exercise, rest, relationship, and time for personal reflection on the Word of God. If we regularly neglect these areas as we serve others, we may begin to resent the very people we want to help.

Another way to limit the chances of becoming someone’s doormat is to keep in mind the scope of our talents, opportunities, and time that we’ve been given, and to seriously think twice about those things that do not fit into the unique purposes of our lives (1 Corinthians 12:1-31). Volunteering for things that you aren’t capable of or gifted for may not be a sensible stewardship of your time or resources. Find opportunities that accommodate the position in which God has placed you and that fit with the dreams and passions God has set on your heart. Performing only obligatory duties will drain us because they aren’t in line with who we were created to be.

And yet, we can’t base our service solely on how comfortable we feel. There are times when we feel the nudging of the Holy Spirit, asking us to do something completely out of our comfort zone. Often, the Lord is asking us to trust Him. On these occasions, pray fervently about it and ask God to confirm the direction. If you go ahead with a heart of gratitude and faith, the Lord will be delighted with you. He loves it when we trust Him.

Serving others involves personal sacrifice, but it is not without appropriate limits. We have physical requirements for life that we can’t ignore, and gifts and opportunities that distinguish us from the next person. But equally important is the disrespect or abuse from another person that may require us to limit our service.

 

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What Does Jesus’ Life Reveal About How to Treat Unbelievers?

Jesus’ entire adult life was characterized by a deep concern for the spiritual condition of the nonbeliever. He saw them as desperately lost, and His heart was broken because of that. His compassionate purpose for their well-being was deep-rooted, and He showed this concern specifically in the way He met them where they lived, fed them, taught them, and healed them (Matthew 9:9-11; Mark 1:33-34; 6:30-42; Luke 5:1-11).

The example Jesus set for us is to build relationships with people who don’t know Him. When we meet a person who has not yet experienced God’s saving grace, we are to have the heart of Jesus and extend a helping hand at their point of need. If they are thirsty, we can give them a cup of water; if they’re hungry, we can feed them (Matthew 25:35-40).

Let’s not forget that Jesus came to our rescue when we were lost. So now, out of gratitude and love, we can find opportunities to do what we can to help others who are separated from God. Isolating ourselves from sinners misses the point of sharing the good news of Jesus, and it feeds into a self-righteous attitude.

Nonbelievers are spiritually sick (like we were), and they need saving faith in Jesus. They need His love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. And it’s important to remember that the only difference between a believer and a nonbeliever is the condition of the heart. He who has a redeemed heart should be broken over the one who has the sin-sick heart. Matthew 9:10-13 reads,

“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and ‘sinners’ came and ate with Him and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and “sinners”?’ On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’   ”

We won’t be much good to the spiritually sick, however, if we ignore our own spiritual health. Just like getting enough rest, exercise, and nutritional food will help build strong physical bodies, meditating on God’s Word, praying, and listening to God will strengthen our spiritual lives. It’s equally important to make sure our closest friends are Christians who encourage us in the faith. It matters who we spend most of our time with, because friends can either make us stronger or bring us down (1 Corinthians 15:33).

I think it’s clear that we, in countless ways and opportunities, can and should reach out to non-Christian people. We can show them love by offering them a meal, a job, or friendship, and most importantly, we can introduce them to Jesus, the Savior of our souls.

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