Verse of the Day

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."

~John 15:13

Today's Devotional Thought

May 14, 2015 by Rachel Piferi


A Gospel Friendship

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on friendship and some key things that I think we need to do to have good, rich, God-honoring friendships. Since that post, I have been studying women's friendships. In fact, for years, I have formally and informally studied women's friendships. As a social psychologist, I have always been fascinated by social interactions and how people connect to, befriend, and support others. As we look in the Bible, we see many examples of good relationships. And we see so clearly that relationships with other people are a gift from God.

A beautiful gift.

But unfortunately, they can be a gift that is often not treated well. I have seen friendships between women that were a source of immense joy turn into heartbreak. I have seen simple misunderstandings become insurmountable wedges due to breakdowns in communication and trust. And I have seen the ugliness of selfishness and pride harden hearts and build walls between friends.

And as I have watched it happen in others and even experienced it myself over the years, I kept asking myself, "Why?"

Why do good, meaningful, rich friendships end?

And perhaps a better question...

What can we do in our friendships to ensure that they don't dissolve due to mistrust, selfishness, pride, envy, or any other human tendency?

As I have studied and watched and talked to and surveyed women about their friendships, I have begun to realize that good, rich, meaningful and enduring friendships are rooted firmly in the Gospel. And I don't mean just being a Christian woman who knows the Gospel message. I mean being the type of Christian woman who lives the Gospel message.

You see, I believe that a good, solid understanding and embodiment of the Gospel is at the core of being a good friend.

And I mean an apostle Paul-deep understanding and embodiment of the Gospel.

An understanding that starts with a theme that we see all through the Paul's letters: we are sinners saved by grace and we are strengthened, equipped, and perfected by Jesus Christ alone.

An understanding that reminds us that by ourselves, we are unable to do what God calls us to do.

That by ourselves, we will never be good enough.

That by ourselves, we will never follow all the rules well enough.

That by ourselves, we are not able to forgive.

That by ourselves, we are not able to love fully.

That by ourselves, we aren't strong enough, good enough, smart enough, talented enough, or loving enough.

That by ourselves, we will never be the type of person, let alone friend, that God asks us to be.

That by ourselves, we are sinners.

But, an understanding of the Gospel that reminds us that we are sinners saved by grace.

An understanding of the Gospel that reminds us that Jesus Christ came to earth for us, died on a cross for us, and conquered death on the third day for us.

An understanding of the Gospel that reminds us that through his death and resurrection, the debt of our sin is paid and if we choose to believe, we can have eternal life {a fate we do not deserve} with God in heaven.

An understanding of the Gospel that reminds us that even though we are sinners, we are forgiven.

An understanding of the Gospel that reminds us that by the grace of God and the blood of Jesus Christ, we are clothed in righteousness even when we are so wretched.

An understanding of the Gospel that reminds us we are loved.

Beautiful, sacrificial, undeserved love.

You see, I believe when you really "get" the Gospel and this love that has been lavished on you, then you will move towards having those deep, meaningful, connections with others that we all crave. Because "getting" the Gospel causes us to replace much of our selfishness that interferes with relationships with a grace-filled selflessness and love for others. A love that springs from knowing you are loved and have been graced.

If we "get" the Gospel, then we can forgive others when they have hurt us or sinned against us because we know that we also need forgiveness for the many ways we have sinned or hurt others.

If we "get" the Gospel, then we can serve others and think of their needs first because we are so aware of how Jesus Christ came to serve us and satisfy our need for salvation above his own needs.

If we "get" the Gospel, then we can extend grace to others when they don't deserve it because we also live in a state of needing grace and not deserving the gift of eternal life given to us.

If we "get" the Gospel, we are so overwhelmed by the gift of love and eternal life that has been given to us that we cannot help but want to live our lives in a way that honors and emulates God. When we "get" the Gospel, we "live" the Gospel. We love like him. Forgive like him. Support like him. And give to others like him.

And when we "get" the Gospel, then we know that God's living Spirit, with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, resides within us (Ephesians 1:19-20). And with that same power, the Spirit enables us to forgive, extend grace, and love like we should.

So even when we think we can't forgive or love or lay down our own needs, God's power does it through us. God's Spirit empowers us to be the type of friend we so desire to be.

I suppose the bottom line for me is this...

The Gospel reminds me that I am a sinner.

But it also reminds me that I am gloriously loved. And because of that love, grace has been lavished upon me and every one of my sins is paid for. And because my sins are paid for, I have received a magnificent eternity that I quite simply do not deserve.

And when I am grounded in that love and grace, then I can't help but lavish it on those around me.

Lavish it through putting my wants aside to meet the needs of my friend.

Lavish it through extending grace when a friend has not done something or said something right.

Lavish it through focusing on the well-being of a friend in a situation before thinking about my own.

Lavish it through perspective taking and striving to understand a friend's point of view in a conflict.

Lavish it through selflessly wanting God's best for my friend (a best that I have also undeservedly received).

Lavish it through constantly praying, believing, and encouraging them to fulfill their God-ordained destiny.

You see, deep, rich, meaningful friendships with others start with the Gospel. They start with understanding how much I am loved and how much I've been graced. And out of the fertile soil of the Gospel, I can love others well. And I can have a friendship that is God emulating and God honoring.

If you are looking for a good friend, may I encourage you to start with the Gospel? Start by getting to know the friend who laid down his life for you. Let his love, grace, and power fill you. And let that filling overflow into rich, meaningful, and wonderful relationships with others.

Grace and peace today y'all. Stay firmly planted in the Gospel. And, love well out there today...

Memorize this verse today:

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."
~John 15:13

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