Genesis 1… God looks over EVERYTHING that He had made and says that it was “very good.” Chapter 2 says that everything was completed and God rests. God places Adam in the Garden and tells him to tend it and watch over it. The garden is beautiful, there is no sin, and yet, note what God says… “IT IS NOT GOOD FOR MAN TO BE ALONE.”
We were designed for community. We all want to belong. That is one reason why social networking has been so successful: we want to be known – to feel a part of something. Fellowship is HUGE component of our journey.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another…” (Proverbs 27:17, NIRV)
In order for consistent growth to occur, we need to be sharpened on a consistent basis. So who challenges you? Who stands beside you? Who do you challenge? This level of accountability won’t happen over night but there are lots of different relationships that can help us spiritually. A mentor, someone to disciple you, an accountability partner- they have different titles, but the goal is the same… to keep you sharp. S.H.A.R.P.
1. S = Seek out the right “THEY.”
I pinned the following on Pinterest last week…
Consider your “go-to” numbers in your cell phone. Are those numbers people who challenge you? It’s easy to play it safe and surface, I would challenge us all to surround ourselves with relationships that will sharpen us.
2. H = Honor the commitment.
Life is hard! School, work, homework, conflicts and even friendships can even be a source of the load we carry.
Spiritual commitments take an effort to maintain. We usually either forget about them after a while or simply break them. It’s hard to manage life and our own relationship with God, much less continued relationship with others. But remember, the Bible says we need one another!
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NLT)
3. A = Ask hard questions.
As hard as it can be to share, it can sometimes be just as hard to be the one asking the tough questions. Trust me, it’s hard to find someone who will commit to keeping you accountable. I tried several times in high school but I didn’t know what to do with my set “accountability” time. Sometimes it starts with one person being able to ask the hard questions like: ”I know you’ve been really down lately. I want to help, what’s going on?” Or, ”How are things going with your step-dad?”
You can talk about anything and everything that relates to your journey. The time doesn’t always have to be about the tough subjects, but it should include them. Talk about the things God has been teaching you or the victories you’ve had in your struggles.
“The slap of a friend can be trusted to help you, but the kisses of an enemy are nothing but lies.” (Proverbs 27:6, NCV)
4. R = Respond honestly.
It can be embarrassing to reveal your deep, dark secrets to a friend, especially the first time. “She’ll think I’m gross, stupid, unchristian.” The fear of a friend perceiving us in a negative light keeps us from taking that step of admitting our weaknesses. While most people act like they have it all together, everyone is struggling with sins and weaknesses of their own.
-Sin has LESS power once we confess and bring it to the light!
-Keeping things secret causes them to grow and fester like infected wounds, bringing more pain until the wound is treated.
-Accountability is only effective IF it’s truthful.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16a, NIV)
5. P = Pray together AND for each other.
Once you’ve both had a chance to talk make sure to pray while you are together. Maybe even say a short prayer before you start sharing to get focused on this time together. Also, pray for one another in-between your meetings. Consider texting to say, “Praying for you today!”
“Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.” (Romans 12:5, NLT)
Remember – quality friendships don’t just happen, they require intentionality. Since we are all imperfect, even good friends will hurt one another. Forgiveness is a must!