Great Joy and Encouragement

by Scarlett Stough

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Encourage One Another.

Loneliness, we are told by experts, is not good for our health. Physically, our immune system doesn't work as well; emotionally, our lives feel empty, leading to depression. Sometimes, loneliness is a temporary condition; sometimes it becomes chronic. Christians who attend a church regularly are not immune from loneliness. The reasons vary from person to person; but the resulting discouragement can lead to ill health, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Magazines give us advice to make friends, join a club, talk to strangers—anything to break the cycle. The Bible has a great deal to say about the benefits of friendship. In this collection of books, God has given us instructions which tell us how real friendship is done. In fact, there is so much written on the subject, only a long book could do it justice. This issue will only give us a starting point to explore this important topic.

Our most important Friend we can ever have is God. His friendship will never fail. He doesn't walk away when we show our worst side. He is not that proverbial “fair weather friend.” He doesn’t grow bored with us. He delights in us; (how amazing is that!) He quickly forgives us when we show our willingness to turn back to him in friendship. He doesn't just want our trust and obedience; he greatly desires to be our Best Friend—BFF.

Not only is he our best friend, he encourages us to make friends with one another; he shows us how friendship with one another can be built and sustained. Genuine friendships give each of us an opportunity to practice the greatest gift of love.

Paul wrote a letter to Philemon asking him to do a really big favor; but before he got around to that he expressed his appreciation to Philemon for his friendship:

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
Philemon 1:7

Those of us who believe Jesus is who he said he is and have become his disciples, his brothers and sisters in the faith, need one another's friendship.

Volume 17 Issue 06 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation |

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