Day 4: Surround Them ~
Godly Friends and Role Models
I can pray often, asking the Lord to protect our children from harm and to guide them into right relationships. After all, prayer is the #1 thing I can do to help my children! My husband and I can spend quality (and quantity time) with our girls in Bible study and family worship. And yet, poor company corrupts good character.
Our children and our families are still a part of society, no matter how much we may want to hide from it all.
Jesus never told us to hide from society, to escape into the woods, to avoid "the world." How we choose to deal with the world of unbelievers and "pretend" believers can greatly influence our children, though, so it's important to think through how you want to handle this with your own family.
More importantly, we as Christian parents need to search the Holy Scriptures to find out what Jesus said about being a part of the world.
What did Jesus say about being involved with "the world"?
Matthew 5:14-16 ~ "You (believers/followers in Christ) are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Mark 16:15 ~ He (Jesus) said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation."
The Bible also tells us clearly in James 4:4 ~ "Don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."
So, what does it mean to be a "friend of the world?"
Well, "the world" is not the physical, geographical planet Earth. Nope. Nada.
"The world" is our world system: earthly ways of thinking; people who are currently in rebellion against God and alienated from God; a viewpoint/ world view that is opposed to God's views in the Bible.
Our #1 goal is to choose to line up our own views of life with God's views of life. If we are reading the Bible consistently with a prayerful heart, we will clearly see God's views of life and how our families should live.
While it is also very important to share the Good News (the Gospel!) with those around us, we also need to surround ourselves with people who are godly.
Jesus chose to frequently hang around sinners.
But they weren't His best friends. Or, they didn't become close friends of His until they placed their faith and trust in Jesus as the Messiah.
In Matthew 9:9–13, we find Jesus having dinner at the house of Matthew the tax collector. Matthew and Jesus were joined by "many tax collectors and ‘sinners'" (v. 10). Jesus initiated this dinner party with "sinners," and Matthew later went on to become one of Jesus' 12 disciples.
If you think tax collectors are hated these days, it's nothing like it was back in the time of Christ, where tax collectors had the freedom to swindle people out of extra money and claim that the extra monies were "taxes", when in fact they were going into the tax collector's own pockets.
We must ask ourselves, Why? Why did Jesus choose to hang around sinners at times?
Jesus didn't hang out with sinners because they were the most popular people around town. He wasn't thrilled about being around the danger and rebellion that filled their lifestyles. He didn't hang around with a rough crowd in order to get back at His parents. (Ha!) His only purpose for spending time with non-believers was that He wanted to point them toward His Truth.
This must be our only motivation for choosing to hang around those who are unbelievers. And we must be very strong in our Christian faith in order to influence our unbelieving friends to have a true faith relationship with Jesus Christ...instead of them negatively influencing us for evil.
It is not easy to be strong enough in our faith in Christ, especially as children and teens, that we are not pulled away from our relationship to Christ and pulled toward worldly thought patterns, interests, and rebellion toward parents and ultimately, toward God.
How can we guide our children to have godly
friendships and relationships with others?
1. If you are an active follower of Jesus Christ, and your children are in the public school system or a secular private school, join a Moms In Touch prayer group (or start one)! From the other Christian moms you meet, find out which children in your kids' classrooms are believers or come from Christian families. Build relationships with these Christian families. Encourage social activities between your children and Christian peers in their classrooms.
2. If you are an active follower of Jesus Christ, and your children are in a private Christian school, talk with your children's teachers about which students in the class come from Christian homes. You may be surprised to learn that possibly only a few students in the classroom come from homes in which the parents are dedicated followers of Christ. Help your children connect with children who are being raised in active Christian families.
3. If you love the Lord, and you are a homeschooling family, seek out other like-minded families who have a strong desire to seek the Lord in all things. Find a Christian homeschooling co-op in your area. Check to see if a local Yahoo group or Facebook group exists for Christian homeschoolers in your area. Ask questions. Meet a lot of families! But be discerning.
What about associating with families from my church?
Believe it or not, this is also going to take a lot of discernment. The average American church is filled with quite a few people who are either very new believers who haven't yet been discipled and taught about the truths in the Bible, or they are people who have been believers for many years and still don't know much of the Bible, mainly because they don't have regular study time in the Word of God.
You will also find imposters in our churches these days.
We have many godly people in my church. But this is also the place where my children learned about prejudice, segregation, and cliques, first hand. Why?
Because churches are made up of people. Some of them are very sincerely seeking God's will for their lives, and are regularly praying and reading the Bible. Some of them are not. Some of them are actively sharing the Scriptures with their children and guiding their children regularly in the Lord. But many of them are not. And that is where the problem lies.
Even in your church, you need to be very discerning about the close friendships you and your children form. Notice that I said "close". We should always be kind and loving to everyone we meet! But our closest friendships and relationships need to be with those like-minded Christ-followers who are actively seeking Him!
How can I tell if a friendship is not in my child's best interests?
2. Friendships are given to us to teach us how to love like Jesus loves. We need to realize that our friendships are designed to help us grow in a spirit of grace and unconditional love, because we, too, will fail our friends at times. We, too, will need forgiveness and unconditional love...because we, too, are sinners - but saved by God's grace. If the reason for the friendship is selfish, then it probably isn't the best friendship to have.
A Friendship Checklist for my children*:
1. Are you careful about whom you select to be your closest friends? Are you cautious about how you behave around your closest friends?
Proverbs 12:26 says "a righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray."
The writer of this passage warns us that as we seek to live righteous lives, we need to approach friendship with caution. I don't think this means that we need to be hermits who fear the dangers of friendship. But I do think that we should be mindful about who we are friends with and how we behave in the context of our friendships.
2. Are you more concerned with having true friends or many friends?
There's a lot of pressure in middle school and high school to have lots of friends. Popularity can seem like the most important thing when you are in this stage of life. But the Bible warns against seeking the friendship of many.
"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).
I strongly encourage you to seek to have one or two really solid friendships that fill you up and help you in your walk with Christ rather than seeking to be loved and admired by a large group of acquaintances. Here's a secret I wish I had known as a young woman: Popularity doesn't mean diddly, but true friendship is worth the effort.
3. Are your friends a good safety net?
The Bible makes it clear that friendship is part of God's plan for our lives. Friends are great! But the purpose of having friends is not to stroke our egos or occupy our time or fill our Facebook profile.
Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 puts it this way: "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"
Our friendships are designed to hold us up when the going gets tough. A good friend will be a safety net when you fall. And being a good friend means doing the same for others. Do your friends help you up when you've fallen? Do you make it a point to do the same for them?
4. Are you friends with God?
Here's a doozy! In John 15:13–15, Jesus calls us His friends. Check it out:
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends."
When you think of friendship, does Jesus come to mind? Are you taking the time to build a friendship with Him like you are with your peers? When the going gets tough, do you run to Him like a friend or call your besties for an emergency mocha intervention first?
It's great to have friends. In fact, our friends can be one of our greatest blessings. And I think that it's important that we explore the specifics of having godly friends and being godly friends. But our friendships must be built on the solid foundation of God's Word and an intimate relationship with Jesus.
Looking at this list, how healthy are your friendships? Are there areas where you need some work? Does God's truth about friendship line up with the way you approach having friends and being a friend?
*Taken from Erin Davis's blog post, "A Friendship Check-Up." www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com. Used with permission.
Ultimately, it comes down to seeking the Lord's wisdom for our friendships. . . and lining our hearts up with His.
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Praying Proverbs 31: Prayers for a Daughter's Virtue is so applicable to all moms who have daughters! Not only is it richly steeped in the Word of God, especially the Proverbs, it provides opportunity for moms to pray specifically about many areas of their daughters' lives...and to answer questions in a simple journaling format.
Praying Proverbs 31 is about touching the hearts and lives of our daughters through praying Scripture. It is both a devotional book and prayer guide, taking the truths of Proverbs 31 and using those truths to pray more specifically for our little women. One passage a week, one prayer a day for 10 weeks covering issues that are at the heart of womanhood: A Valuable Virtue, A Pure Life, A Rewarding Work, A Heart for Home, and more.