Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I wonder if you’ve experienced a conversation with someone recently in which you really connected. Have you ever had a conversation in which you feel that you’ve really bonded? Occasionally when talking with someone else, it’s almost as if your souls open up and you connect. You move beyond the ‘Hi, how are you?’. You’ve connected.
Or do you ever have one of those conversations in which you just don’t connect? No matter how hard you try, you feel that you just can’t get through to that person. You could be talking to your teenager, and they look at you like you’re from another planet. Or it could be your spouse. You can usually connect but, for whatever reason, it’s just not happening at that moment. We desperately need others to understand us—to know how we feel, and for us to understand how they feel. We want to be connected.
I read of a study done by an American department of mental health. They discovered that if you’re disconnected to other people, there’s no one in your life that you really feel understands you,
- you are two to three times more likely to die an early death
- you are four times more likely to suffer from emotional burnout
- you are five times more likely to suffer clinical depression
- you are ten times more likely to be hospitalised for an emotional or mental disorder.
Human connections are good medicine!
This shouldn’t surprise us. In the Bible we read Proverbs 27:9 which says, “A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” There’s something about a close relationship that refreshes us spiritually. We were designed for intimate, loving relationships in which we’re enjoyed simply for who we are and not what we can do for others. You need people who understand you, who relate to you and who can connect to you.
Now, you may think that the Bible has little to say about the subject of friendship and how to get connected. But the Bible is full of advice on how to be a friend, and on the benefits of friendship. It’s full of examples of good friendships. David in the Old Testament had a friendship with King Saul’s son, Jonathan. They made a vow to be friends, and David kept this vow even after Jonathan died. When Jonathan died, David said, “How I weep for you, my brother Jonathan! Oh, how much I loved you! And your love for me was deep, deeper than the love of women!” They had a friendship that was tested, but they drew together in difficult times and remained friends to the very end.
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Jesus had close friends. Out of his disciples, Jesus had three close friends: Peter, James, and John. Out of this inner circle, John is called ‘the disciple Jesus loved’. The Bible records that Jesus had some close friends that he would stay with when he was nearby. Now, if Jesus had close friendships, that’s a pretty good indication that we will need close friendships as well.
It’s important to think sometimes of how we connect with other people. The Bible, especially the book of Proverbs, is full of principles on how to connect with people at the deepest level—the heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul level. This is one of life’s most important skills. No matter how brilliant or talented you are, unless you know how to connect with others, you’re not going to go very far.
Unfortunately, most of us are never taught how to connect with others. It’s certainly not taught at school. Some of us might not have learned healthy patterns at home either. What does the Bible say about relating to others?
The first key to connecting with them is this:
Be Committed to the Relationship
Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” To put it another way, it’s better to have one, reliable friend rather than a number of unreliable ones. An important key in relationships is being committed to the other person.
Do you remember when you made a major transition in your life? You left school, you moved jobs, or you even moved cities. You probably made promises to keep in touch. How is it going? If you’re like most people, you connected with others and you didn’t miss the old relationships that much. You weren’t really committed to the relationship. That’s not all bad. You can only be friends with so many people. But if you want to really connect with a particular individual, you’ve got to be committed to the relationship. You’ve got to say, “I will be this person’s friend, no matter what.”
Let me ask you: How many close friends do you have? How many have you committed to connect with, no matter what happens in your life? If you can’t think of anyone, this might be the reason why. If you’ve thought of one to three people, you are a very blessed person. God has given you some very precious friends. If you think that you have four or more friends of this type, you probably have a problem. Most people can’t have more than about two or three deep friendships. And when you find friends of this type, you need to be committed to them.
You don’t need many friends in this life, but you do need a few good ones. It’s better to have two good friends than a thousand acquaintances. The key difference between a friend and an acquaintance is commitment.