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What a Special Friend Can Do for You

Before the Coronavirus spread to the United States in the March of 2000, my daughter Lydia was thinking about ending her Pole Vaulting career. The 2020 Winter Track Season was blah; not progressing at pole vaulting or meeting any new friends. As a Field Event specialist, not part of any running events, it’s hard to experience the sense of being part of a team. This all changed when Lydia met Bree at the 2020 Winter Track State Meet.

The man of many friends [a friend of all the world] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.

Instead of dreading track, this instant friendship has transformed my daughter’s perspective of this sport. Bree has been like a big sister, introducing Lydia to everyone in the pole vaulting community. In her first two seasons, Lydia enjoyed pole vaulting, but she could live without it. Now that my daughter has been welcomed by the local pole vaulting community, a new desire to improve was conceived. When a special friend enters your life, these individuals take you to new heights, often pushing you closer toward self actualization.

No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends, John 15:13.

In the Old Testament, King Solomon distinguishes the difference between having several acquaintances and a special friend. Genuine friends stick around when everyone else tends to leave during times of hardship. Meanwhile, one of Jesus’ disciples refers to the sacrifices that friends make with the greatest being laying down their own life. We all need special friends like Bree. Looking back, if it wasn’t for Bree, Lydia probably would not have broken her school record which she now holds by herself at 9’6″.

by Jay Mankus

Sharpen or Shy Away

King Solomon compares relationships to the work of a blacksmith, Proverbs 27:17. Just as iron sharpens iron so that a farmer’s plow can dig through arid soil, human relationships need the same kind of attention. No one likes their flaws, imperfections, and weaknesses exposed, Romans 3:10-12, but if you want to reach self actualization, this painful process is necessary.

If your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between you and him privately. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two others, so that every word may be confirmed and upheld by the testimony of two or three witnesses, Matthew 18:15-16.

One of Jesus’ disciples builds upon this concept in the context of a church. Whether you are wronged or a friend sins against you, the most mature manner to handle this is to meet privately with this individual. If you do and this person doesn’t listen, bring two responsible believers into this situation. If this rebellious soul isn’t willing to change, take this situation to your church so that a resolution can be found.

If he pays no attention to them [refusing to listen and obey], tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector. 18 Truly I tell you, whatever you forbid and declare to be improper and unlawful on earth must be what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit and declare proper and lawful on earth must be what is already permitted in heaven, Matthew 18:17-18.

Unfortunately, most people shy away from conflict. Instead of being used by God to sharpen one’s faith, wayward offenders become dull, drifting away from God. If you really love someone, correcting and disciplining wrong actions is beneficial for both parties. Thus, each day you have the choice to sharpen or shy away. The next time you have the opportunity to act, remember the words of James 5:20.

by Jay Mankus

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