Mar 20, 2018

Dear Friend | Love like Jesus






















Dear Friend,

I wonder what's on your mind as your eyes scan these words.  What's going on in your life?  Are you resting in joy or struggling to take a breath?  I wish I could sit down with you, hear your story, and offer a warm hug with a smile.

Because that's what friends do, right?

Well, not always.  As friends, we're often selfish.  Sometimes we love because we want to gain from the other person.  We complement to make people like us.  Even something as beautiful as friendship can be turned into a way to promote ourselves.

That's what this post is about:  I want to be the most loving friend I can be.  No, these qualities coming up aren't a list of my complaints, saying what I wish other people would do more of.  I'm not writing to point a finger.  They're what I want to develop in my own life.  They're what I'm lacking.  And I hope you also want to love as Jesus loves.

I fail in this a lot.  But with God, everything is possible.

(and please note that many of these are personal thoughts.  I will not say any of them are complete truth unless backed up by Scripture, but I also strive to be open about what I've learned in life.)

This is longer than most of my posts.  But real friends read to the end, right?  haha.

a friend steps out to love others

Yes, introverts, I'm talking to you.  Being friendly isn't easy (trust me, I know!), but when we step out to offer a smile and a kind word, it can make a huge difference.  If I never stepped out at that wedding, I wouldn't have made a new friend.  If I never talked to the girl sitting beside me on the pew, I wouldn't have known that she needed prayer.  Stepping out is huge!

a friend seeks the good of others rather than their own promotion

They are willing to love just for the sake of blessing others.  A friend understands that it's not all about having fun or being popular - it's about being a blessing to that person.  They have a pure love for others.

Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart...

This also means that a friend is willing to hurt for (and with) their friend.  They are willing to be vulnerable for the sake of being an encouragement to just one.  They'll make sacrifices.  Because they love that much.

a friend listens before speaking

Have you ever listened to a conversation just enough to come up with a witty response?  Then your brain ignores the rest of their words.  You have something to say!  What's on their heart isn't as important.

Just read through a few chapters of Proverbs to discover the truth.

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Keeps his soul from troubles.

Which leads to another point.

a friend doesn't need all the answers

Sometimes a listening ear means so much more than words of advice.  We need to listen to their problems and love them stronger because of it, but we can't think we can fix their life by shoving our answers down their throat.  It's really not what they need.

Yet if a friend is clearly living in sin or if you feel a need to challenge them in an area of life, be brave to open your mouth with words of loving confrontation.

a friend will confront or challenge in love and never tolerate sin

Confrontation is never fun.  (it hurts too)  But what special relationships are built with friends are willing to be open and honest with each other!

Recently, a friend challenged me to reconsider several areas of life.  We were able to discuss them together and share where we stood in those areas.  Even though we don't agree in every area, it's okay.  I know what she believes and she know what I believe.  Being completely open makes friendships so sweet.

And, to visit the reverse, a friend should accept confrontation gracefully. 

It reminds me of two other Proverbs.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend...

As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

And yet, a friend shouldn't point out unnecessary flaws.  It's okay if your friend has a habit you don't like or if something about their appearance catches your eye.  Don't point it out.  Just love them.  If something isn't sin (and you do not feel that confrontation would be loving in a Biblical sense), it's okay to keep your mouth shut.






















a friend strives for understanding

What's your friend's love language?  If an online person appreciates personal touch or acts of service, this could prove to be difficult.  Yet there are so many ways you can bless a person only by knowing who they are.

Each person is unique and beautiful, created in the very image of God.  What a honor that you can get to know them!  Seek to understand your friend's struggles, fears, gifts, talents, and hobbies.  And support them in their giftings!  Even if you can't relate with their outlook in life, take time to appreciate their talents.

I have a brother in computer security and another who sings classical music.  While I cannot directly relate with their abilities, I want to know and understand them because they're two of my best friends!  I don't know every opera composer, but I can take time to listen to their songs.  Because that's what I want a friend to do for me.

But certainly, don't start meddling in the other person's life.

a friend doesn't impose herself or have to know everything

It's hard to accept that our friend has...well, other friends.  We're not the center of their lives, and it's okay to not know everything that's going on.  They're living their own lives.  It's good for us to seek to understand and love them, but don't force them to live answering your texts.


a friend makes their friend know that they are loved

However you do it, make sure they know.  Send a card, give a gift, squeeze your hug extra tight.  People need to know that someone's out there who cares.  Who knows if that smile could save a life?

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

(to see the warning for those who don't love, read verse 8!)

a friend prays

They don't forget.  If a friend asks for prayer, a true friend should write it down and remember to do it.  They should be able to say like Paul,

...without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day...

Okay, so you don't have to pray all day and night for every single person you know (if you did, that would be awesome!).  But prayer is so important, and it's often underestimated.

Ask your friends how you can be praying for them.  And then do it.  But don't just stick with friends.  If you just met someone, ask what they need prayer for!  God gave me the chance to do this yesterday, and it meant so much to see the tears in her eyes when she found out that I cared.  ♥

a friend always points back to Jesus

They offer Godly support.  They direct conversations to eternal matters.  They share the Gospel.  A friend cares about more than earthly things - they want those around them to flourish in Jesus and to love Jesus more than themselves.

The relationship between David and Jonathan is a beautiful example of friends encouraging one another to what really matters.  Amidst persecution, confusion, and fear,

Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God.

a friend forgives

This isn't only forgiving the silly friend who texted you back and said, "you texted the wrong number", making you panic and frantically try to find who you DID text.  That definitely didn't happen to me today.  It goes deeper.


Jesus forgive the people who shoved nails into His hands.  Could we do that?

And lastly,

a friend loves

Because Jesus loved us.  How could we not love others?

This is the second greatest commandment in the Bible - to love one another.  And what's better than loving a friend in the Biblical view of 1 Corinthians 13?

Friendships are priceless treasures.  Relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ should be a great source of joy, encouragement, and truth.  But it starts with us - are you a true friend?






















Let's talk!  What aspect of friendship do you struggle with most?  Is there one I forgot to mention?  Who is a friend who has been a real source of Christian love to you?

(and if you made it through this entire post, congrats!  You're a great friend!  Here's a hug.  *hug*)


~♥~

9 comments:

  1. *hugs back* I read the whole post! *pats myself on the back since I get distracted so easily*
    Great post, Hosanna!
    I struggle with friendships at times because I just want to be a loving and good friend to everyone. I have friends who are outgoing and it’s easy for them to have lots of friends - but I also want to be there for those who don’t necessarily feel as comfortable in a crowd of people, or people who don’t exactly have a lot of friends who can be there for them. I try to balance myself out - because I just want to be there for everyone... but at times I end up feeling overwhelmed.
    I am part extrovert and part introvert. Or maybe just a talkative introvert. I struggle sometimes with listening to people because I really have something to say or get distracted easily. I need to listen to people. And as you said I don’t always have to give my advice (unless they ask for it) to people.
    My friends aren’t going to tell me about everything that’s going on in their lives and they’re going to have other friends... and that’s fine. I just need to be there if they need me. Often, as you said, people just need a listening ear.
    Jonathan is one of my favorite people in the Bible and his and David’s friendship is great. He was selfless.... which is something I struggle with but I’m to put other people’s needs before my own.
    Praying for friends is so important! And letting them know that you’re praying for them can encourage them.
    One thing to add, it’s important to remember what they tell you. Their dreams for the future, hobbies, passions, prayer request - if they had a math test last week. That shows them you listened and that you care. I’m a pretty forgetful person so this is hard for me but it’s so great to do!
    Yes! Always point back to Jesus.
    Forgiveness... holding grudges just damages a relationship and does nothing to benefit it. Forgiveness is what we should do.
    We need to talk to a person - in love - if they stumble in their faith and sin... though as you said not if it’s just something that annoys you... just if it goes against God’s Word.
    Thank you for sharing your heart, Hosanna. This post is perfect timing for me. And thanks if you were able to read my whole long comment :).
    I’m blessed to have blogger friends like you.. even though we’ve never met in person. Praying for you, and if you have any prayer requests just let me know :).
    Keep living for Him!

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    1. You ARE a good friend, Sarah! *more hugs* =)

      You touched on many different aspects of friendship, and they're all so important! One in particular that I struggle with is similar to what you mentioned: it's easy to stretch myself and try to be friends with everyone, thinking I can fix all their problems. When I hear of someone going through a hard time, I instantly wish I could be that person who supports them as they press forward. Yet I can't help everyone. We need to be faithful with the people God puts into our lives but also balance them so we don't become too overwhelmed.

      Isn't Jonathan such a good friend?! That verse in 1 Samuel 23 amazes me. It's a picture of real, selfless love! I'm thankful for the Jonathans in my life that always point me to Jesus. ♥

      Good point - remembering what your friends tell you. This is true for me especially in regards to prayer requests! =) I don't want to be the friend that prays once... and then forgets. Nor do I want to forget what's important to my friend because other things crowd it out.

      Ahh, you're an extroverted introvert? ;) Do you find it easy to initiate conversations with strangers, or is that a struggle for you? I've found that when Christ stretches you in that area, He leads us to discover the amazing lives all around us. Every person has a story. Every person could be a best friend.

      Thank you for sharing your heart, Sarah! You're an encouraging friend, and I'm thankful God lead you into my life. ♥

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    2. Yeah, I would love to be the one they go to if they’re going through a tough time... but that’s not always so. Yes, we need to balance ourselves out.
      Talking to strangers? Mmmm.... it really depends. Sometimes it’s easier than other times.
      I love how you said every person could be a best friend and has a story. When I see people sometimes I wonder what’s their story. And if we don’t initiate a conversation we may miss an opportunity for a new friend - maybe eventually best friend!
      Thank you for your encouragement, Hosanna. :)

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    3. Thanks for sharing, Sarah! I think life as Christians should be a life of stepping out and loving others - friends and strangers. There's so many people who need words of truth; who is going to speak them?

      Let's never get comfortable in our seats. Instead, we must get up, walk across the room, and pour into the lives of others. Jesus is the perfect example of that. What better mission than to live like Him?

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  2. Aww, Hosanna. X) I feel like you wrote this post just for me! Learning to be a good friend will be a lifelong experience for me (and all of us) I'm sure, but how precious that we get to learn alongside each other. <3 Just imagine the pure, priceless friendships we will have in heaven one day when we have seen Jesus and share more fully in His nature than ever. As we spend more and more time with Him, I trust that He will mould us into the friends He desires us to be.

    Who is a friend in your life (or a few) whom you have really learned from in this area - who have displayed Christlike qualities in your friendship?

    Thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. Ah, yes! What a beautiful time it will be when we can be in heaven with every believing friend worshiping Jesus. To see them face to face and not worry about earthly troubles... a blessing indeed! Yet I also think there's something sweet in timid Believers encouraging one another towards Godliness. =)

      I'm thankful to say that I've had several people who have shown me what Christlike friendship looks like. One in particular was an online friend in a girls' group I was in. In every interaction she had with people, you could see the love pouring out. She showed a spirit of mercy in relating with the hurting and said often how she wished she could carry their burdens for them. During our miscarriage, she was a huge source of prayer, love, and encouragement. Even though we've drifted apart as friends, I learned much from her example. I'm able to relate with and love others better because of her.

      What about you, sweet friend? Who is someone who has pointed you to Christ and encouraged you to build stronger relationships with others?

      Thank you for that reminder. Thinking back to my friend I mentioned earlier, I re-realized how God used her in my life. I hope we can be that friend to someone else. ♥

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    2. True. Our friendships here in this broken world are just as beautiful (for a different reason) in their season as friendships in the new creation will be. In the future, will will live out purity and perfect unity, but now we get to practise grace and forgiveness and perseverance and pulling together in spite of disagreements. Everything in it's time. :)

      You mentioned that online friend of yours who made left that mark on your life, having been an example to you of love for others. It's precious that, even though you're not so close anymore, you still recognize how the Lord used her in your life to leave that mark. Perhaps that's a large part of the reason why He crossed your paths to begin with. We often don't know His reasons, but it brings joy to speculate knowing that He has our good and His glory in mind.

      As for me... though she didn't say in so many words that it's a blessing to have strong, thriving friendships, by the example of her friendship towards me, one of my friends from Japan has lead me to desire strong friendships. By stronger, I mean more vulnerable, mutually affectionate, pure, and ultimately centred on the Lord.

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    3. Oh yes, Jordy! God has made everything beautiful in its time, especially friendship. Which also reminds me to savor every moment (and every relationship) until we are able to stand before Him. There's a purpose for everything. =)

      Isn't it amazing how God often leads seemingly meaningless events into beautiful stories? Like with my friend and yours, both relationships strengthened us. I'm so thankful for His guidance in our lives and for those friends who drew us closer to Jesus.

      Thank you for your sweet, encouraging friendship, Jordy. ♥

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    4. And, Hosanna, thank you for your encouraging friendship, too. You constantly have a word to point my thoughts back to the Lord. <3

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