Monday, January 6, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Loving like Jesus Christ would want you to love


Loving my friends the Jesus way

A devotional by Jessica Brodie

When I was a girl, I thought being a good friend meant being really nice or complimentary to someone, or making them feel better about themselves. That meant if my friend wore a color shirt that looked awful on her, but I knew she’d plunked down a lot of money for it, I’d insist she looked great. Or if she said something rotten to her boyfriend, I’d be supportive and tell her she was in the right, even if I thought she’d been out of line.

As the years passed and my faith strengthened, I started thinking about the Golden Rule when it came to my friendships—that is, heeding Jesus’s command in Matthew 7:12 (NIV) to “do to others what you would have them do to you.” I wouldn’t want my friend telling me a shirt looked great on me if it didn’t, so I started responding with much more honesty, the sort of thing I’d want to hear, such as, “You are gorgeous, but that color isn’t your best. Return it for the red one.” Or, in the case of the boyfriend, I might tell her she was right but that her words were harsh, and advise her to apologize.

But going so far as to offer real, bitter-truth honesty? That was far too frightening. 

I’d pick the safe path rather than risk a fight … and possibly losing our friendship. When a friend did something immoral, I would ignore it and blindly hope they’d get back on track, thinking preserving our relationship was the priority. Perhaps if I’d been a better friend and helped them see the error of their path, helped steer them back to God, their life would have taken a better course—even if it meant the end of our friendship. No, I was too worried about maintaining the way things were, too worried about offending them, too worried to take a chance. What I thought was mannerly was actually cowardice, for when it comes to true friends, they’re worth the risk.

That’s the thing about loving people—it’s always at the risk of self. Loving others means helping them win, which means we might lose. It means encouraging them to be their best selves, which might involve hurting their feelings … or my own. It means being real, taking risks, loving hard, and loving right.

Today, I’m a woman who tries my hardest to follow Christ and live my life for Him, and that comes to friendships, too. I realize I have an obligation to be far more than a companion to those in my inner circle. I need to love them as Jesus would love them. That means sticking by their side when they are facing darkness, illness, or ruin and offering them help, even it if puts me in jeopardy.

It also means pointing them in the right direction—toward the Jesus path.

Jesus is filled with kindness and compassion, of course. He loved us so much He was willing to take the form of a lowly, poverty-stricken human, suffer and die a torturous death on our account, all so He could show us the way to God. But he didn’t do it by ignoring misbehavior and making us feel better about ourselves. He loved us and, all the while, pointed us to God. He urged us to leave sin behind and repent, to live in a new way.

The woman caught in adultery about to be stoned by a crowd of men for her sins, from John 8? Jesus came to her rescue, but He didn’t say, “that’s that; now go on your merry way” to make her feel better. He said, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11 NIV).

As Christians, we are called to love each other as Christ would—all in, holding nothing back, and always pointing to the Lord. That’s the kind of friend I need. How about you?

~*~
Author Bio:
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.

She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministries team.

Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com.

15 comments:

  1. There have been times when loving a friend or a stranger was hard. Yet, when I pause and think how He loves me in all situations, I can love others without conditions.

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    1. It's SO true. Thank God for the Holy Spirit that allows us to spread His love all over.

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  2. Great insight here to be a true friend and speak the truth in love.

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  3. The right thing is usually the hardest thing to do. Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

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  4. I agree, a good friend is honest with others. But their intent is not to tear their friend down, quite the opposite, their intent is to help them be the best person they can be. When confronting friends with hard things, it's good to do so gently, reminding ourselves that there are times, we need a hard word, too. Good devotional! Thank you!

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  5. This is such a good message, thanks. "Better is open rebuke
    than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses." Proverbs 27:5-6

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  6. Ouch, sister! This blog hit close to my heart. I wrestle with telling my friends and loved ones hard truths but certainly appreciate hard truths from them. Just yesterday, my boyfriend gracefully highlighted an area whether I was in the wrong and I was able to give it over to God and change my behavior and attitude. Excellent, convicting post. Thanks, Jessica!

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    1. Yes!!! This can be SO hard! Bless you, my friend!

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  7. Great reminder to love our friends deeply enough to be open and honest with them. But also willing to accept the same from them.

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  8. Finding the balance in speaking the truth in love is one of the most difficult things to do. Thank you for this reminder!

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