"How often we simply admire and talk about the truths the Holy Spirit reveals to us in the word, whereas His primary purpose in giving them to us is that we might stand on them in faith, waiting confidently for Him to make them an integral part of our life."
"If you love me, obey my commandments." John 14:15
This past year I had two very close friends who greatly influenced my spiritual life. Although the two seemed to share the same core Christian values, they taught me a very valuable lesson in two very different ways. I learned that it is better to teach about God's love through actions and not from empty words.
Let me start with friend number one who I highly admired and I put on a pedestal because he talked such a good Biblical talk. He was always sharing with me what he had learned in his Bible study, latest Biblical book he read, or sermon he had listened to. We had many in depth conversations about his thoughts and feelings and everything he wanted from life. To say that I adored him is a complete understatement; I soaked up every word as though it came straight from God. I trusted him because he knew so much and I would go to him with my life questions and for advise on major decisions. He told me on numerous occasions that he would always be there for me whenever I needed him, yet when I needed him the most he was no where to be found. In turn, I was there at his beckon call whenever he needed me. He had pretty high standards for himself and also for everyone else around him. Although he seemed to know everything the Bible said, he often overlooked certain issues that cut into his personal life making allowances for himself. Many times he was also very judgmental and critical of other Christians and non-Christians. I thought so highly of him that I tended to overlook this and often times chimed right in.
Now for friend number two. When I met him, I knew he was a Christian and instantly I was completely blown away with how obedient he was with his life. For instance he consistently tithed, even when he didn't have the money, and he was practicing abstinence until he gets married. At first I thought he might be all talk because I had never met anyone like this, but time proved that his intentions were clear and his actions never showed anything else: he knew exactly what he stood for and did not waiver. However for some reason I tended to almost look down on him because he did not do a regular Bible study and he certainly did not read any extra books. Sometimes I would get frustrated with him and he would have to remind me that he was not friend number one. I hate to admit it but there were many times that I was mean, did hurtful things to him, and was not there for him when he needed me yet through all of this he stood by me and poured God's love onto me. He encouraged me to seek out help and to take time by myself to heal and grow stronger. He was always trying to protect me even though I tried harder and harder to push him away. His main concern always was for my well being and he told me time and time again he wanted to make sure that I was better off now than before he came into my life. Anytime I needed something, no matter how small or large, he was quick to jump in and try to help even when I showed little or no appreciation. He always expressed that his word was everything to him and his actions spoke loudly that this was the case. He never made a promise that he did not keep.
As time went on, I though more and more highly of friend number one whose words said everything and actions showed nothing. I feel foolish now because I realize I got caught up in a big facade, everything I believed about him was a lie. I'm ashamed that I thought friend number 2 was any less of a Christian because he didn't know as much about the Bible and didn't talk about it as often. I got so caught up in hearing friend number one's words that I never really stopped to realize his actions showed a completely different life. Because I put him on such a high pedestal, I was blind sighted by what everyone else around me saw through. As far as him being there for me when I needed him, that was a big lie too. In the end he was very dishonest and proved that our friendship was only important when he needed it. I have been deeply hurt but also highly convicted of our friendship. I believe that God took him out of my life because I used him as a crutch for my own Christianity. Many times I took his word as truth instead of searching for it on my own. Other times I put his feelings, wants, and needs over what I knew to be right or what I knew God wanted me to do. What I learned from all of this is that it is easy to say that I trust in God and that I believe in him and that I know about him but I don't want to do that anymore. Instead I want to live like friend number two and let my actions shine brighter than my words. I also learned that instead of listening to someone I need to look at their actions. In the end I've been hurt and hurt others through this experience but I've learned from it and God has definitely been working on my character. I'm thankful for both friends and have learned a great deal from what they have taught me.