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From the Pulpit: Building lasting friendship

June 3, 2012
By ELDER MICHAEL F. SMITH - Weirton Covenant Church , Weirton Daily Times

Proverbs 18:24 "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.KJV

I never will forget teaching our oldest son this principle. The year was 1986. We had just moved to a new church. It was a midyear move and a new year with a fresh start for all of us. My son Michael was in the first grade and an amazing six years old. The whole idea of moving was overwhelming to him.

Christmas break had ended and it was time to face the challenge of going to a new school. Michael was horrified by this idea. He was a bit backward and not excited about this new adventure at all. I remember he came home downcast, dejected and full of despair. He declared, "Mom no one wants to be my friend. I have no friends." He was crying and really bummed out. I stepped out of my office just in time to her his mother quoting the above verse; Son the scripture says, "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly." She went on to add, "So, young man pull your shoulders back and show yourself friendly!" This was just the cure he needed.

We prayed encouraging him and coaching him in ways he could approach people. Finally our little guy had a breakthrough. After about a whole week, he came home announcing, he not only had one friend but three. Life was good again.

Michael has never forgotten this lesson. You ask how I can be so sure. It is not just that he has many friends, but that he still goes out of his way to be friendly to others, but especially the new guy.

You may be new to the church or have not gone for a long time for whatever reason. Maybe you are a member trying to approach new people. How can you show yourself friendly and build lasting friendships? Let me share a few principles that may help.

Number one, do not be a man of many words. Proverbs 13:2, 3 "From the fruit of a man's mouth he enjoys good, but the desire of the treacherous is violence. The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin." Yes, show yourself friendly, but listen twice as much as you speak.

Number two, focus your attention on them not yourself. It is not all about you, but them. Let your interest be genuinely about them. 1 Cor. 13:4, 5 "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered." Dale Carnegie said, "It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow man that has the greatest difficulty in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from such individuals that human failures spring." Take the time to get to know them. Invite them to do something outside of church.

Number three, be vulnerable not easily offended. Another way to say this is to be thick skinned and tender hearted. Be willing to go the extra mile. Matt 5:41 "Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two." Building lasting friendship is costly. Keeping the golden rule is critical if you are going to build lasting friendships. Luke 6:31 "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you." If you get offended go to them and make it right quickly. Matt 5:23, 24 "Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering."

I trust this is enough to get you started. If you have been making excuses to not go to church because you don't know anyone, or have been offended, stop it and get going again. If you are at church get ready to show yourself friendly!

("From the Pulpit" is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)

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