Who Is A True Friend?

“The poor are shunned by all their relatives- how much more do their friends avoid them! Though the poor pursue them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found.” –Proverbs 19:7 (NIV)

The idea of fair-weather friends was a concept I was first introduced to in elementary school. Whenever a child has the latest toy or gadget, he was the coolest kid on the playground. Everybody wanted to be friends with him in hopes that their own prestige would be lifted up. However, this led the child to think that the attention he was receiving was true and genuine friendship. Thus, it was a sad sight to see the child’s dejected face when his so called “friends” deserted him after circumstances took away that which made him popular. Such scenes, of which even I was on the receiving end,  taught me  early that true friends stick with you regardless of your circumstances because they love you for who you are; not because of what you have or what you can do for them.

Yet sometimes it seems that we have not let go of this tragic attitude from childhood. How often do we pursue friendships only because we see something that we can gain for ourselves? While we might claim that we will stand by our friends no matter what comes their way, if selfish ambition has been the basis of our friendship then we will abandon them while they are in midst of trials. This will reveal not only how hollow our love was for them, but how crooked and shamelessly selfish we are as we trample over them by our betrayal. Perhaps we lament the destruction and misery we have caused by abandoning friends in their time of need and wonder if there is any way we can change. Our only hope is when we have allowed ourselves to be transformed by Christ. Sin has caused us to act in selfishness toward others, which is contrary to love. When we have allowed Christ’s Spirit to enter our hearts and free us from our sinful nature, He will help us see those around us through His eyes; as lost and broken souls in need of His love. By submitting ourselves in humility to Him He will cause His love and faithfulness to overflow from within our hearts so as to bring healing and hope to those who are hurting.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Love Your Friends

“A friend loves at all times,”- Proverbs 17:17a (NIV)

The beautiful thing about friendship is that it is timeless. Even if close friends have been separated by time and distance, the love and bond between them still remains. God has blessed me with such friendships and my prayer is that I will be a good friend to the ones He has given me. But friendships can often be fragile, and it is tragic when friends part under unpleasant circumstances. When harmful attitudes such as anger, jealousy, or impatience seep into the minds of friends even the most trivial of offences can separate the strongest of bonds. The consequences of allowing these attitudes to infiltrate our minds are painful and as we look back on the memories of broken friendships we are filled with regret wondering if things could have been different if we had simply not taken the steps we took.

All of us are but humans and as such we have been tainted by sin. Due to our fallen state, it is easy for us to give into harmful and destructive attitudes. Sin tells us that we must always glorify ourselves and insist on having our way at all costs. But in reality when we place ourselves before others, we have actually bowed our knee to sin and allowed it to sever our relationship with God and with those we care about. How then can we make sure that sin does not get in the way of our relationships?  The truth is that we can do nothing about it by ourselves, but only by the power of Christ working within us. When we have allowed His Spirit to enter our hearts and seek to conform ourselves to Him in our attitudes and actions, He will carry out his restorative work in our lives. As we turn our face to Him and away from ourselves, He will train us in His love so that His love will overflow from our hearts and into the lives of others. Bearing with one another in love is something that only Christ can help us accomplish and when we choose to abide in Christ, He will order our friendships so that life may abound and hearts be turned to Him.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

True Love Confronts

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” –Ephesians 4:15 (NIV)

We do not like confrontation. It is messy, uncomfortable, and often creates conflicts that we would rather avoid. When faced with the destructive lifestyle or erroneous thoughts of a loved one, we may know deep down that something is amiss and want to speak up. Yet we refrain from doing so out of fear that we will create unnecessary tension and end up hurting the other person. We try to justify our silence by saying that it is an act of love; that refusing to say anything about the behaviour of the person we love is proof of our concern and sympathy for them. However, in truth it is the exact opposite. It is not an act of love to remain silent for we will simply be letting them go down a road that will bring them pain and misery.

True love will warn someone when they are going in a direction that will end with regret and despair. Such love goes beyond a simple concern for the other person’s feelings, and finds itself caring for their well-being. When driven by such love we will not cease to speak the truth to our loved ones, even if they ignore our words and find us annoying, because we do not want them to go down that path to total oblivion. However, if we try to do this on our own we will find ourselves lacking the courage to speak boldly and the wisdom to use our words well. It is only when we are enabled by Christ’s Spirit that we will find the wisdom and courage to act in love. When we have allowed Him to enter our hearts and seek with humility to abide by His Spirit, we will be careful to walk according to His leading. Guided by Him we will find that He will give us the strength and tact to boldly speak the truth in love so that those who hear may find life abundant.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.