When I have conversations with people, whether it is a friend or a cashier at the store, I try to respond honestly when they ask, "How are you? If I'm tired, I tell them. If I'm overwhelmed, I say so. If I'm happy, I tell them why. I do this for two reasons: I want to be honest when I'm asked how I'm doing, and, most importantly, I want to invite others to honestly reply by telling me how they are doing. I want to have deep conversations with others, not surface-level conversations, with those around me. Not only is this a desire of mine, this is something that Scripture teaches is very important. We are going to look at this today as we study from Proverbs 27.
Proverbs chapter 27 provides instructions about friendship. He speaks that faithful, true friends are invaluable. "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend," verse 17 says. Friends are meant to make each other better people. They are meant to make each other stronger, better, and healthier people. They are meant to make each other more like Christ. This only happens when friends are honest and real with each other. They tell each other the truth, even when it is hard. They share their struggles with each other as well as their hardships. It means really answering the question, "How are you?" honestly, and not just answering with the standard saying "good." This, my friends, is how friendships that are centered on Christ should look.
Are you willing to "go deep" in your friendships? Are you willing to share your joys, trials, struggles, and hard times with them? If not, perhaps one of the reasons you may feel lonely is because you have not built deep relationships. Invest in your relationships. Go deep. Share your struggles and your joys. As you build deeper friendships, you may even find that your loneliness has begun to subside.
Sometimes passing the surface-level in a relationship feels risky because we do not know how the other person is going to respond. Your challenge today is to do that anyway. Take the extra risk and have a deep conversation with someone. Tell them how you are really doing and how they can pray for you. Then, invite them to do the same. If you are not involved in a small group, now is the time to get involved with a group. Take a courageous step and sign up to join a group today. You can register here. As you seek to have deeper relationships with the people around you, you may just find yourself a little less lonely.
Read Mark 12:29-34 (NLT)
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”
Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.