As a twenty-first century consumer, I am well aware of my credit score—a high one opens multiple financial options, while a low one can quickly diminish them. As a friend, I am challenged to build a Friendship Confidence Score. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist serves as a wonderful role model to me (Luke 1:39-56). Her life teaches me much about the confidence that should be evident in our relationships as we see how she responded to her young friend and cousin, Mary, who was experiencing personal challenges. As we focus on “springing into spring” let’s create a vignette of Elizabeth who teaches us many principles about building confidence in relationships . . .
Elizabeth was the wife of Zacharias the priest (Luke 1:5-8). Luke 1:6 reports that “they were both upright before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord”—certainly a foundational quality for a strong Friendship Confidence Score. At the time Mary chose to visit Elizabeth, both were faced with challenging pregnancies—Elizabeth was what today would be diagnosed as high risk because of her age (Luke 1:7), while Mary was unwed (Luke 1:26-38). Additionally, since Elizabeth chose to seclude herself for the first five months of her pregnancy; the absence of friends and family and the presence of a husband who had been struck dumb in the temple because of his unbelief at Gabriel’s announcement (Luke 1:18-25) all paved the way for Elizabeth to warmly welcome Mary (Luke 1:39-56).
God knew that Elizabeth and Mary needed one another! During the three months they spent together, they undoubtedly nurtured one another for the incredibly painful events that would later impact their lives—John the Baptist would be beheaded for speaking boldly against Herod’s adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife (Matthew 14:1-12), while Mary would bear the unspeakable pain of watching the crucifixion of Jesus (Luke 23:26-49; John 19:18, 23-30).
Elizabeth’s life offers several important factors to create our Friendship Confidence Score:
- Availability. Mary had confidence that she would be welcome in Elizabeth’s home—Mary had no way of alerting Elizabeth of her intention to come for a three month visit (Luke 1:39-40).
- A patient spirit. Elizabeth waited for Mary to share the reason for her visit rather than immediately interrogating her or preempting the situation by sharing her good news (Luke 1:40b-41).
- A clean vessel. Elizabeth was a clean vessel that the Holy Spirit could use to affirm the Lord’s work in Mary’s life (Luke 1:41). At Mary’s arrival two astonishing actions occurred—John the Baptist literally leapt in his mother’s womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy (Luke 1:41-45).
May I encourage you to evaluate your friendships in relation to the Friendship Confidence Score Factors by responding to these questions?
- Am I available?
- Do I have a patient spirit?
- Am I a clean vessel?
- Am I willing to practice Philippians 2:3-5 by “doing nothing from selfish ambition or conceit?”
Kelsey’s Korner offers timely advice on “springing into spring” with this verse as a motivating force.
Years ago when I first began dating my husband, our first serious conflict was over chips and queso! Through a series of misunderstandings and different perspectives, we disagreed over cheese dip!! And yet as petty and silly as it sounds, these are often the type of disagreements that occur in our closest relationships. For some of us, however, conflict seem to occur much more often than for others. So what are the sins we harbor that cause us to find ourselves in controversy? And how can we grow to become a woman of peace and unity in all our relationships? To answer these questions we must cross-reference the motives of our heart with the Word of God.
Philippians 2:3-5 tells us to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” The example that then follows is of Christ who, though in the form of God, humbled Himself on the cross, even death on the cross, and took on the form of a servant to save mankind from his sins. He is the ultimate example of “do nothing from selfish ambition” that we are called to follow.
Think back to some of the arguments you have had and consider these questions: What part did you contribute to the discord? What were you holding onto so closely? Was it your will or your pride? When we are persistent about our desires over the interests of those around us or when we consider our methods better than others’ methods, we are secretly saying, “I am more important and of greater worth than you.” “My wants are more important for me to fulfill than your wants are for you to fulfill.” “This experience is more important for me to enjoy than for you to enjoy.” “My way is hands down better than your way.” These statements reveal selfishness, stubbornness, and ultimately the pride that is trying to rule from all of our hearts—far from the selflessness, deference, and humility that “is yours in Christ Jesus”. As the Lord convicts of our sins and continues His work in us, let’s purpose to grow in the three areas exemplified by Christ in Philippians 2:
1. Begin cultivating a mind that is open to other ideas. Usually there is no right or wrong “opinion” or “preference” over small things like leisure activities or food interests. With humility, embrace your friend or family member’s differences with a heart of selflessness.
2. Begin cultivating a personality that is less opinion driven. If you have a tendency to bring strong opinions to your relationships, begin working on becoming less driven by them. Try not to base all your decisions on your own desires, but strive to fulfill the opinions and preferences of others! Work on simply “going with the flow”. People who have this quality reveal a heart of deference and flexibility.
3. Begin cultivating a heart that is not easily offended. We often read way too much into what other people do—we judge their heart motives and their view of us and then react accordingly! We refuse to show grace or humility to any apparent shred of wrong motive that we think we see in others. Because of this, we stubbornly hold to our point of view. Yet remember, Christ literally gave his life for those who wouldn’t appreciate Him! And he did it in humility and selfless love, an example we are all called to follow.
During times of controversy with my husband when I would react to our disagreements with judgment and nagging, my mother would kindly remind that I am not the Holy Spirit in my husband’s life! Instead of reacting from emotions and personal preference, take your concerns to the Lord. With a heart of selflessness, deference, and humility, let’s analyze our own hearts (Matt. 7:5), confess our sins to the Lord (1 John 1:9) and to those we sin against (Matt. 5:23-24), pray for those with whom we have discord (Matt. 5:44), then step back and patiently allow the Lord to do the rest.
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
God has said, “Be patient, therefore brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the judge is standing at the door” (James 5:7-9).
Therefore, I may boldly say, “I am to picture every prayer as a seed planted in God’s will. As I wait, I should picture them ripening, trusting in God’s perfect harvest time.”
Blessings on you as you “spring into spring” and focus on making your house a home!