There's a great line the movie As Good As It Gets. Jack Nicholson plays a character who is unlikable in every way. He is rude and inconsiderate to his neighbors, treats a lovely waitress with contempt, and throws his neighbor's small dog down a laundry chute (Okay, I'll admit I've wanted to do something like that last one...but I never have). The waitress is kind to him in spite of his oblivious attitude toward the rest of the world, but one day while having dinner with him, she says, "Give me a compliment. I need one." He proceeds to unleash one of the most romantic lines in the history of cinema. He says, "You make me want to be a better man."
That is what we can say about the very best friends God gives us. If you are very, very fortunate, as I am, you can say that about the person you married, or about a lifelong friend you still have today. Proverbs tells us "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." That is the purpose of friendship: To provide us with the encouragement and challenge of someone else, pushing us toward all God has for us.
As God's people, we must take responsibility for the fact that every person in our lives was put there for a purpose. Are we fulfilling God's purpose in each and every one of our relationships? Matthew was a man who didn't waste the relationships he had formed with dozens of fellow tax collectors and other notorious "sinners." When Jesus came into His life, the first thing he did was make sure his friends got to know Jesus as well. This Sunday, we'll look at how God expects us to bring Christ into all of our relationships, as we study Matthew 9:9-13, part of our series, How to Win Your Friends...Naturally.