By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. Ecclesiastes (MSG)
In my devotional today by Melissa Taylor of Proverbs 31 Ministries she talked about Christian friendship and it’s foundation. This prompted me to review my friendships and see if they are founded on Christ and as it turns out I too have 5 fabulous friends that have been there for me in Christian love and friendship.
A friendship grounded in Christ is made up of 5 qualities that make the friendship solid. When a relationship is grounded in Christ, a new level of intimacy is achieved. We know what we say to each other is in Christian love, so we can say just about anything without fear of judgment or abandonment.
1. Love – we love each other unfailingly, the way Christ loves us. A true friend loves you even when you are unlovable.
I have been blessed to have friends who came to me at different stages in my life. One has been there all my life. She’s my sister but over the years she has become my friend. Although we have times when we disagree on things the love of Christ and family brings us back to each other. Another has hung in there with me since high school and although our lives have taken us on two separate paths it has always brought us back full circle as we have reached out to each other for love, support and accountability in our lives and relationships. The last three ladies came to me during the worse period of my life and when I could not do for myself or those in my care they stepped up and did what needed to be done but most of all they just loved on me until I could get myself back to accepting Christ’s love for myself.
2. Encouragement – we intentionally try to build each other up. I want these ladies to know I believe in them.
I love to encourage them and be encouraged by them. It’s like having your own little cheering team as you go through the challenges of life. I know that if I need a little kick in the butt to get me jump started with a little love mixed in that all I need to do is call on them. I love to let them know what they mean to me and how they have encouraged me in my life. They in turn encourage me when I am down and feeling as if I’m not making a difference. Their sphere of influence has been monumental to me as I’ve gone through some very challenging times while we have been friends. The greatest joy has come from knowing that they are just a phone call away night or day and I will have all the encouragement I needed and then some.
3. Forgiveness – forgiveness requires a loving heart and a lot of nerve. The Lord does not keep a record of our sins, and neither should we. Everyone needs forgiveness at some point.
Oh how true these words are because a misspoken word, a forgotten date, task or request can easily cause unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment. So often in friendships the forgiveness factor is a big thing over very little things. It is so very essential to keep it Christ centered. It is hard to have a friendship when another is harboring unforgiveness against the other(s). The ability for us to say “I’m sorry” and be greeted with a hug is huge. The fact that we trust each other enough to say my feelings have been hurt or I didn’t like it when you said or did x, y, or z is a true testament of Christ working on the inside of each of us. So often we are self-absorbed and don’t often pay attention to our words and the affects they have on those around us but in this friendship I feel that we do and our forgiveness is quick and sincere.
4. Accountability – we love each other enough to be real before each other. This is HARD! To give accountability you need to be honest, bold, available, and authentic. To receive it, you need to be humble, open and approachable. Not everyone wants accountability, but we all need it. In our group, we ask for accountability in certain areas of our lives.
We don’t seem to have a problem with this. In fact we look to each other as barometers on our “walking with God scale”. Whether spoken of in the group or individually we have each held the other accountable in loving actions and words. It is very HARD to approach someone and say “Hey you, you’re messing up at _________, and I’m a little worried but that’s when the love of Christ through the Holy Spirit takes over and lets it be received with the love and care it was said in. I want to know if I’m doing wrong in all aspects of my life. I may not like what they say but I receive it and when the time is right adjust things accordingly but what is really cool is that it never has to be confrontational it usually comes out during a conversation and indirectly pricks our heart for thought and prayer later to have the trueness of the words spoken revealed to us. Depression, guilt, dependence on a substance and how we are treating ourselves, our families and our spouses are not off limits. I for one welcome the probing of “what’s going on?” “Something’s not right,” because before I can answer them I have to acknowledge what is taking place within myself or my life and sometimes that is the first glimpse that I’ve gone astray and before I’ve gone to far I can turn things back around.
5. Service – I don’t know what I would do without the service these ladies have provided me with at key times in my life; meals, housecleaning, taking care of kids, a listening ear. Their service is love in action.
This is the area that my friends excel in. Service to me and my family is no light task. I have the most and neediest children out of the bunch. These women have loved them like their own as they have bathed, fed, read and tucked them in. My house has been cleaned and laundry has been folded and put away while I sat helpless to assist. Their ears have been talked off, yelled into and had words flung that no one but a Christ centered friend can handle spoken at them. I can’t thank them enough for their listening ears, their selfless service and their acts of service over and above the call of friendship. They are true examples to me and I hope that one day I can be as great of a friend in service as they have been, are and will be for many more years (I hope!) to come.
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13