I’ve been thinking about friendship lately. It’s a very important part of life. Probably the only part here on earth. Here are some observations.
- Friendship is not primarily about me. It is about the other person. If my focus is on myself, I’ll be miserable. If I focus on the other person and how I can make them happy, I will be surprised how much joy I will “receive”.
- Friendship needs to be lived out in the context of the gospel of grace that I have been given.
- Friendship is based on truth. However, truth is not the pre-eminent characteristic. I give truth in my friendships, but not always every piece of truth. It is always balanced with love...BOLD LOVE.
- Friendship is based on my vulnerability. If the friendship ends, I will have revealed enough of myself that I will be hurt. Again, see the example of Christ: John 1:10-11. It is another of life’s conundrums.
- The example of true friendship is Christ: GOD Incarnate. Philippians 2:5-10. He did not grasp the privileges to which He was entitled but humbled Himself. He left the glories of heaven to limit Himself to human flesh and time. Imagine!
- When someone doesn’t want to be as intimate in a friendship as I do, I can’t browbeat them to become more intimate. It is possible that something about my style is intimidating or for some reason just doesn’t resonate with them. Sometimes I can change my manner, sometimes not. I can still be friendly to someone I feel “rejected” by.
Another way to say it is “Move toward them in relationship, not away from them.” As part of our ministry to them, we may need to be in a less intimate relationship than we would prefer. Does that mean we walk away from them if they don’t comply and “open up” to us? NO! I didn’t say it was easy.
- Humility, grace, truth and love go a long way in friendship. These traits are crucial in any relationship, particularly a friendship.
- We must show that we love a person for who they are NOW when we offer the gift of friendship. Remember the way GOD has loved us? He accepts us the way we are…but doesn’t allow us to stay that way! This is especially true if we see the rough side of a person. Which takes me back to the second point above:)
God has used friendships to both minister grace to me over the years as well as tear me to shreds inside. Then I had to turn to Him. That is always a good thing but it is often painful.
- How is GOD using you in the lives of others to minister grace through friendship?
- How has He used others to minister grace to you through friendship in the past?
- Do you have any other observations to add? Share them with us.
thanks ali. you realize of course, that this was not a one-way blessing? i’ve learned a lot about friendship from those breakfasts and the discussions we’ve gotten into:)
He has ministered his grace to me through you, Martha with your writing but more often during our conversations over breakfast. You tolerate my stupidity and gently correct me. You give me your time by answering my questions thoughtfully. You organize your schedule to make time for me when I come to town. these are things Jesus did for his friends. Your life is a grace to me.
absolutely elizabeth! i think the main thing to learn is that some people have a natural gift to know what to offer and what to do in a difficult situation.
other people aren’t as gifted. they are better at other things. they may love you but really don’t know what to do. maybe they have never been thro’ a hard experience like you have.
sometimes the best they can do is ask you to call…not realizing that you can’t even do that when you are in the middle of major suffering.
so both sides of the friendship need to give grace to each other…even in the middle of great difficulty.
we can all agree that saying, “call if you need anything.” is not the best thing to say during a bad time. it works much better to ask, “would you like me to bring a meal or help with the laundry?” (fill in the blank with the choices.)
These are practical and profound words about friendship.
I would also add that we need to be willing to give ourselves, i.e.; our time and energy when our friends are in need even when it is not convenient to us. It’s not enough to say “Call me if you need anything,” when they are living through a tough time. I think we need to make specific offers of help such as ,”Can I come over to pray with you today, or clean your house, or pick up some groceries or watch your kids for a few hours?”