God didn't design humans to do life in isolation. I didn't realize how important relationships were until COVID practically forced us to live in isolation (at least for a period of time). Thankfully we have technology to allow us to stay connected; however, even though I was attending church virtually and staying in touch with friends and family, it still wasn't enough long-term. COVID put things in perspective for me and reminded me of the importance of close relationships and doing life with others (especially other Christians)!
A commonly used verse when talking about the importance of close Christian relationships is Proverbs 27:17, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." I know little to nothing about the sharpening of iron. But something that stuck with me is the fact that one tool can't sharpen without the presence of the other. Alone, the blade would become dull overtime. When a tool is used to sharpen another tool, both tools are impacted.
Hebrews 10:24-25 is another great example of good Christian relationships:
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
This month I'm going to focus on the importance of close, personal relationships with other Christians. Next month I'll discuss the importance of community as a whole that you have through the church and regularly meeting.
The church community is important; however, we all need to have at least a couple closer relationships with other Christians. Why? We need people we love and trust to "rub off the hard edges." Everyone in the church probably won't see your "hard edges," but people involved in your daily life will see them and be able to hold you accountable. What is our motivation for building these relationships? These relationships aren't one sided, they're mutually beneficial! These relationships are designed to help both parties grow in their relationship with Christ.
Do you have an accountability partner or people in your life that will lovingly correct you? Having people to hold you accountable in your daily life will help "sharpen" you and can help your relationship with God grow. Here are a few examples of different areas you might want to have someone hold you accountable in:
- Consistently reading your Bible and praying
- Specific sin struggle (lying, stealing, gossiping, sexuality, etc.)
- Encouragement towards active participation in the church
Maybe you don't need to be really close with someone to feel comfortable asking them to hold you accountable for reading your Bible, but as you seek accountability for sins you struggle with, it's extremely important to look to people you trust, have your best interest in mind, and will direct you to Scripture. In close relationships, they can see your weaknesses or problem areas and feel comfortable calling you out. Fair warning: there will be difficult conversations at times; however, they stem from love. You don’t necessarily need just one person to be an accountability partner. You might have one friend who helps with one thing in your life while another friend helps with a different thing.
If you don't feel like you have any really strong relationships with other Christians, I'd encourage you to work on building these relationships. Churches have regularly planned social and volunteer activities in which you can get involved. Small groups at church are great for forming close relationships!
Our willingness is just as important as having close relationships to hold you accountable. We need to be willing to take the constructive criticism/advice/wise counsel that our close friends/significant other/spouse gives us. There are going to be times where it won't be easy to make these changes. There might even be times where the advice given might cause some tension in the relationship. But in the end, if we're willing to make the changes in our lives, we'll see the benefits of these relationships.
I've talked about your close Christian relationships, but what about relationships with people who aren't Christians? 2 Corinthians 6:14 says "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?" This doesn't mean that you should avoid friendships and talking to unbelievers; however, we need to be cautious with the people we are closest to. Tying it back to Proverbs 27:17, the people we're closest to have an impact on us. We want to ensure that our closest relationships – the people in our lives that have the most impact/influence – are believers who are helping sharpen us.
This month, I want you to reflect on the close relationships in your life. Are these relationships helping strengthen your relationship with God? What are some areas of your life that you could benefit from having an accountability partner? If you don't feel like you have any close relationships with fellow believers, what are some ways for you to get involved in your church to start building these relationships?
Cornerstone Impact Update
Do you believe that some jobs or companies exist to serve a greater purpose while others don’t? This belief that only some jobs exist to serve a purpose is a common misconception. Eventide’s Shaun Morgan shares a story that happened after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. He then urges individuals and businesses to unite with one another around the common purpose of meeting human needs.
Check out the whole article here:
Spread the good news with a free t-shirt! Many people are not aware of Biblically Responsible Investments (BRI). We have to spread the word. One way we can do that is through wearing one of the softest t-shirts. We now have TWO Cornerstone t-shirt designs (and colors)!
Design 1 (Unfortunately, we are out of mediums in this design):
Design 2 (SEMWealth.com/Cornerstone small text on upper back):