Embracing Grace: Lean on Me

A 365 Day Devotional Journal

Day 56

Scripture: Luke 14:7-11; 1 Corinthians 13:1-2; Romans 12:14-16; John 15:12-15; Luke 9:23-24; Luke 21:16-17; Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 20:6; Psalm 35:13-15; Psalm 55:12-14; Proverbs 27:5-6, 9-10; Matthew 26:49; Proverbs 17:9; Proverbs 18:19; Proverbs 16:28; Proverbs 18:24; Proverbs 26:18-19; Proverbs 12:26; Proverbs 3:32; Proverbs 22:10-12, 24-25; 1 John 3:16; Hebrews 13:1-3; James 2:14-17; Psalm 15:2-5; Proverbs 19:3-5, 6-8.

Photo Credit: Mario Lobo / CC/by-sa/3.0/

 

“People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”1

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.  (Proverbs 18:24, NLT).2

Friendship is a word too noble, too honorable, too faithful to sully for selfish means.

How many times do I call a person “friend” when friendship is the farthest thing from my mind?

Isn’t this what we do when we enter into friendship for what we will get out of it, rather than what we can give? It is too easy to forget what it means to be a friend.

How often do I enter into relationships with my heart’s motivation to see who will admire me for my spirituality, or my knowledge, or to strive in that relationship for top marks in popularity?

True friendship is not a popularity contest. If my heart is determined to see that I come out on top, then I am no friend at all and have deceived myself. The Word says that a friend loves at all times and no greater love has any man than this that he lay down his life for his friends.

The Word says to weep with those who weep, to mourn with those who mourn. When my friend is hurting and dares to share it, if I respond with something like “Well, I had to go through the same thing as you but for much longer (so buck up),” I am not being a true friend. A fair-weather friend is someone who only wants you to encourage them but will not reciprocate because they do not see you as having needs. And if I am on the receiving end of such behavior and I take offense, I, too, am being a fair-weather friend, because a friend loves at all times.

When we walk in God’s compassion, we don’t get to pick and choose who we think deserves it. If we do, we are not walking in agape.

The news reports continue trickling in on those men who literally are giving up their lives to try and contain nuclear plant meltdown in the wake of Japan’s devastating earthquake. Many of them, I have learned, are God fearing believers, so they truly are walking out these words of Jesus. Do some of the people living in Japan not deserve this selfless sacrifice? Absolutely – no one does.

Isn’t that the point?

None of us deserves this kind of sacrificial love – that is why Jesus died for us, because it was the only way. And He has commanded us to follow in His footsteps.

I believe it is more difficult to lay down my life for my friends in everyday living, because it means I must humble myself, giving others more honor than I desire for myself. And that is sometimes hard to do. Our nature is naturally given to pride.

Friendship is more than literally being willing to give my life. It is being willing to allow “friends” to look down on me, thinking I do not measure up to their level of (you fill in the blank.) It is being willing to let them interrupt me when I’d like to say something, allowing them to dominate the conversation because they need to be the center of attention because there will be times when I need the same thing from them. It is allowing them to place me low on their totem pole of honored friends without resentment, knowing that God who sees my heart will reward accordingly.

Friendship is choosing to love at all times, not just when it serves my purposes, choosing to receive rebukes that stem more from devilish misunderstandings than from personality issues and not allowing it to embitter me. I can rebuke my friend using all the facts of the situation, but if I am doing so from a heart of pride, rather than humility, I am wrong.

1 Corinthians 13 says that I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal in the ears of God because I missed the love. I missed the compassion. I missed the heart of Jesus.

A true friend will believe the best in me and bring a loving rebuke, not just a rebuke. He will not assume the worst in me, and when I heed his rebuke, he will not only be happy, but will want to do something to affirm me in love, demonstrating his own humility through it.

Scripture says “faithful are the wounds of a friend.” If I rebuke a friend with wrong motives, I am not faithful, for the heart of Jesus and His call to us is love.

Love trumps factual correctness.

“A friend I hold so close and dear in my heart now and forever, is someone I’ve never even partaken a meal with but our bond through Jesus draws us nigh unto each other as we’re drawn nigh unto Him. At times I feel our hearts beat as one because we know our God and His place is our center. We have traveled the rough seas of envy, competitiveness, and immense lifestyle differences to a calm placid lake of friendship together forging forever our love for one another. Only by the mutual love of Jesus would this have been possible. He is and always will be the binding ingredient for true friendship.”3

A true friend does not care if he ends up on top because he has learned to walk the Corinthian road, the road of agape.

Read: Luke 14:7-11; 1 Corinthians 13:1-2; Romans 12:14-16; John 15:12-15; Luke 9:23-24; Luke 21:16-17; Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 20:6; Psalm 35:13-15; Psalm 55:12-14; Proverbs 27:5-6, 9-10; Matthew 26:49; Proverbs 17:9; Proverbs 18:19; Proverbs 16:28; Proverbs 18:24; Proverbs 26:18-19; Proverbs 12:26; Proverbs 3:32; Proverbs 22:10-12, 24-25; 1 John 3:16; Hebrews 13:1-3; James 2:14-17; Psalm 15:2-5; Proverbs 19:3-5, 6-8. Journal your private thoughts.

Father God, let not my own heart grow cold or fill with pride, let me not lose sight of Your compassion, Your love, for all people. I do not get to pick who deserves it, for none of us deserve it. Burn out of me the temptation to harbor unkind thoughts, for they lead to hurt feelings which lead to unforgiveness and the iniquity of bitterness. I would rather cut out my eyes than to know that I have offended YOU with my heart. Cut out the roots of sin, so that my robe is washed clean. For Jesus’ sake, and for the kingdom’s, amen.

Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is really faithful? (Proverbs 20:6 NLT)4

An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. (Proverbs 27:5-6, NLT)5

A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity. (Proverbs 17:17, AMP)6

This is My commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you. No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends. You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do. (John 15:12-14, AMP)7

IF I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-2, AMP)8

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 1“John Maxwell.” Great-Quotes.com. Gledhill Enterprises, 2011. 9 April. 2011. http://www.great-quotes.com/quote/964327.
2Proverbs 18:24. Scripture quotation taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. www.tyndale.com
3“Recipe for Friendship.” Kim Bloomer.(c) 2004 People of Faith. 9 Apr 2011. http://www.peopleoffaith.com/christian-friendship.htm
4Proverbs 20:6. Scripture quotation taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. www.tyndale.com
5Proverbs 27:5-6. Scripture quotation taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. www.tyndale.com
6Proverbs 17:17.  Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
7John 15:12-14. Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
81 Corinthians 13:1-2. Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org

Copyright © 2011, Érin Elise

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