Some people we come across in the course of life are acquaintances. They play a part in our life, but don’t change it. Then, there are people we encounter who are life changers.
We are never the same after our interactions with them. Our relationship with these people is not just transactional or behavioral; it is deep, intimate, and spiritual.
Jesus was incredibly effective at changing the lives of those with whom he was in relationship. We can learn from him how to become life changers.
First, change me
“If you make a tree good, its fruit will be good. If you make a tree bad, its fruit will be bad. You can tell a tree by its fruit.  You nest of poisonous snakes! How can you who are evil say anything good? Your mouths say everything that is in your hearts.
 A good man says good things. These come from the good that is stored up inside him. An evil man says evil things. These come from the evil that is stored up inside him.Matthew 12:33-35 NIrV
Change is hard. It is emotional. One of the biggest changes I have made was becoming a Christian. It was a transforming process for me. It involved taking on sins that I had grown accustomed to and that I had learned to rely on.
It was at times both heart-breaking and heart-healing. It brought inner turmoil, as I tried to change deep-rooted areas of my life and heart.
It also brought inner peace and relief as I learned to rely on God and his forgiveness. It made me reflect on my past and dream for a new future that God would create. I couldn’t do it by myself. It was the process of making the tree good, not just changing behaviors.
What I have learned since becoming a Christian is that “making the tree good” is not a one time event at baptism, but rather a daily and lifelong process of growth and change. It is just as emotional and challenging as it was then, maybe even more so as now the changes are the deep, character, and heart changes that don’t come easily.
Jesus said that only those who are involved in the process of being made into a good tree are able to produce good fruit. We have to be experiencing the process of change in all of its ups and downs, in order to be used by God to help someone else change.
This process involves discipleship, where people are actively involved in each others lives and helping each other grow and change.
When is the last time I made a significant change?
Am I going through the process of God changing my heart and life?
Do I believe in discipleship and am I engaged in it?
Why would you focus on the flaw in someone else’s life and yet fail to notice the glaring flaws of your own?  How could you say to your friend, ‘Let me show you where you’re wrong,’ when you’re guilty of even more?  You’re being hypercritical and a hypocrite! First acknowledge your own ‘blind spots’ and deal with them, and then you’ll be capable of dealing with the ‘blind spot’ of your friend.
Matthew 7:3-5 TPT
As this Scripture says, unless we are involved in changing and growing, we will have blind spots. Those blind spots prohibit us from seeing clearly to help our friends. When we as friends all have blind spots, we just keep running into the same walls and can never help each other see God better, nor can we help each other change or grow.
Where are your blind spots?
Do you have friendships where everyone is helping everyone see their blind spots?
Lasting change comes from God
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.  And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 NLT
Ultimately, only God can change a person’s heart. No human can change their own or another person’s heart no matter how hard we try. It is a spiritual process that God does in our lives.
God is able to reach in and take out our rocky, hard hearts and replace them with hearts that respond and that care.
When you or a friend are stuck and can’t change, do you pray?
How much are you using the Bible to engage the heart versus using human effort and skill?
He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”
Mark 9:29 NIV
The friendship factor
By the time David had finished reporting to Saul, Jonathan was deeply impressed with David – an immediate bond was forged between them. He became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be David’s number-one advocate and friend.
1 Samuel 18:1 MSG
Jonathan wanted to see David to succeed and fulfill God’s purpose for his life. He was a great, loyal friend. This can be easier said than done.
How many of us have a difficult time building a “Jonathan and David” friendship because we are focused on our own insecurities or secretly envious or jealous of others?
How would you characterize your friendships? Are they superficial or deep?
What stops you from becoming a better friend?
“So this is my command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you. For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends.
John 15:12-13 TPT
John 15:12-13 teaches us that the greatest expression of love is when we sacrifice for our friends. Great friendships are a barometer of our walk with God.
What are areas in your life that you are unwilling to sacrifice to be a better friend?
Think about the friends you have. What can you do to build a deeper friendship?