Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Thine Be The Glory"1 (Lyrics)
Philippians 2:29 – Welcome [Epaphroditus] in the Lord's love and with great joy, and give him the honor that people like him deserve. (NLT)
Both were named Mike, both were good friends, and both had vastly different influences on me.
I met the first Mike when I was 15. My dad had been called as pastor of the church where Mike and his family attended. I was in the rebellious stages of adolescence … and so was Mike. He had experimented with a little more than I had and was eager to introduce me to alcohol, drugs, and cutting school. I was eager to follow his lead — and did. Mike was a good friend — and would have done anything for me, but his influence was negative.
I met the second Mike shortly after graduating high school when I started work at a local metal fabrication plant. He worked in quality control and had a desk in the warehouse where I worked. Mike had recently become a believer and was eager to please God with his actions and attitudes. At the time, I was still a little rough around the edges. Mike kept me sanded down. Every time I cursed, Mike gently called my name. Every time he saw or heard me committing wrongful actions, he lovingly rebuked me. Rather than get mad at Mike, I appreciated his concern for me and shaped up around him.
Forty years have passed since I hung around with the first Mike and about 34 since the second Mike. But I remember their influences well. So did Paul when it came to Epaphroditus. Paul was in prison. Epaphroditus delivered a gift to him from the believers at Philippi.
- Good friends hold me accountable rather than lead me into unwise and unhealthy attitudes and actions. I'll appreciate their rebukes because I know that they have my best interests in mind.
- Good friends show me unconditional love. Regardless of how I act or respond to their efforts, they will continue to love me as Christ does.
- Good friends are always willing to lend me a helping hand. Helping me may inconvenience them … but they don't mind.
- Good friends and I share a common bond — belief in Jesus Christ as our Saviour — and build our friendship on that foundation.
Wanting to be a good friend as well, I will return these favours for my friends.
Develop friendships that lift you up … not bring you down. Don't let just any Mike into your life.
Prayer: Father, lead us into friendships with other believers who will enhance our journey with You. Amen.