“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26, ESV)
Promises in the Plural
Many of the promises in the Bible are written in the plural. Because we live in a culture that values individualism, we miss that many of the promises are not given to me alone, but us together. In our English language, the word “you” can be plural or singular. “You” can be a group of people or it can be one person. It is not the same with the Biblical languages. “You” is designated as either singular or plural. So when we read the Bible in these original languages, it is clear whether it is a community or individual that is being addressed. We don’t get the same benefit with our English translation.
Consider the verses below where I added “all” to designate the plural “you.” Consider how it changes the way we read these texts.
“But (you all) seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (all).” (Matthew 6:33, ESV)
“For I know the plans I have for you (all), declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you (all) a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)
“(You all) go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19, ESV)
Maybe the reason that we don’t see the promises of God fulfilled in a greater measure is that we have been going at it alone.
Are you going it alone?
More than half of Americans admit they have no one with whom they can talk about their personal troubles or successes outside of their closest family members. We are living in increasing isolation, and it is not good for us. Where do you fit into this picture?
Do you have a close and personal friend? Do you have someone that you can talk about stresses and anxieties in your life?
The men reading this are more likely to say no to this question. Men tend to be more isolated. Most American men have no friends. They have acquaintances and interact with people all day long. But they rarely have true friends. With increased workloads and business, we often find ourselves spread thin and don’t make the commitment and time for friendships. I wonder if this is one of the reasons men tend to die sooner than women.
Be a friend
One of the most popular descriptions people have of their church is that their church is a friendly church. But it doesn’t mean much to be friendly. The checkout lady at the supermarket is friendly. But I don’t go to the supermarket to meet the friendly lady at the checkout. People don’t care if you have a friendly church. What they care about is if we will be there friend. What they wonder about is if they can I find connection and community.
We have a lot of chit chat in our churches. We talk about the sports team, the weather, or the headlines in the news. And there is nothing wrong with talking about these things. But it is important to go beyond these things.
I need people to ask me the hard questions. I need people who are going to make me a better pastor, a better husband, a better Christian, a better father. The Bible tells us iron sharpens iron. We need to be that iron for each other. That does not happen by accident. It takes intentionality. It takes discipline. It takes valuing people and the importance of relationships.
One thing I have learned over the years is that to make a friend you need to be a friend. When you genuinely care for other people, they will tend to care for you. The more you give, the more you get. You will reap what you sow. So start sowing the seeds of friendship. Make a friend! Be a friend!
- Why are relationships important? What are the consequences of isolation?
- Do you have a close friend in whom you can confide?
- How can you be a friend today?