June 2019   
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Be a Friend... not a Foe

Be a Friend... not a Foe

Stephen W. Shives

When David arrived at the summit, where the people used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite was there to meet him, his robe torn and dust on his head. David said to him, “If you go with me, you will be a burden to me. But if you return to the city… you can help me…                     2 Samuel 15:32-34
We affect the lives of others in one of four basic ways: 1.) ADDING value to them 2.) SUBTRACTING value from them 3.) DIVIDING people and causes to bring them down 4.) MULTIPLYING – by building others up and supporting their endeavors.  
I suppose some of the most trying times I experience in life, is when those who are close to me, become a source of discouragement. It’s at those times, I want to say, “Just get away from me and leave me alone!” Not because I do not love the person, but because life is tough enough without having my “friends” drag me down even more.
In 2 Samuel 15, King David is trying to cope with the personal devastation of his son Absalom trying to usurp his throne. As those who were devoted to David trudged through the countryside, they wept with a cry of defeat. Yet David is never portrayed in scripture as being a man of discouragement or status quo. His positive approach to life was now being challenged by the reaction of those around him. To top it all off, his “friend” shows up in sackcloth and ashes!
The ancient translation of “burden” means “a tribute to doom”. It is the modern day equivalent of singing the blues. It could be considered anyone or anything that tries to bring you down. David recognized immediately, that the discouragement of his friend had the potential to quickly bring him down as well. His solution was to disconnect himself from the negative influence, while offering his friend an opportunity to help.
Jesus experienced a similar event with His disciples. After explaining the events that would lead up to, and eventually the crucifixion, Peter refused to accept it. In Matthew 16:23 he told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me: you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
It is interesting to me that even after spending a significant amount of time with His disciples, mentoring them and building a relationship, Christ was willing to sacrifice the friendship for a greater cause. Yet, Jesus was more committed to God’s plan, than any other agenda. And He was unwilling to compromise it for anyone or anything else.
It is impossible to overestimate the value of having relationships with people who influence your life in a positive way. Unfortunately, those we are closest to, also have the same powerful potential to destroy our hopes and dreams. We can however, be encouragers of one another. When a friend is up against seemingly impossible odds, don’t add fuel to the fire. Become an encourager. And perhaps when you need it most, someone will encourage you as well!