How to be a Good Friend
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15
I am blessed with many precious people to call friends and have often been the beneficiary of Jesus’ command to “love each other as I have loved you.”(John 15:12) My community has loved me well in casserole dishes, tears of empathy and tears of rejoicing, hard words dipped in loved, free babysitting and financial blessing, through the laying on of hands and fervent prayers in sickness; with coffee dates, play dates, dinner dates, through encouragement and even forgiveness. Every act of friendship that has cut me deep and left a lasting impression on my soul has been offered in sacrifice and love. Sacrificial love--both Jesus’ love for us and the way we emulate that love-- is the unique calling on our lives as Christians and should be the foundation upon which we build our relationships.
I love that before we are told to clothe ourselves with qualities attributed to God: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, love, and peace; we are first reminded that we are holy and dearly loved (vs12). If we do not have the truth of God’s love in Christ set as the framework from which we live and move and have our being, our good deeds and even the way we love our friends can become selfish pursuits for our own benefit.
There was a time in my life that I struggled to believe that I was personally loved by God, and instead of living out of the abundance of his unwavering, unmerited love, I clothed myself in these Christ-like garments in my own strength. Without God’s love set as truth in my own heart, these attributes were heavy and burdensome to put on. When I served others, it was for recognition, praise, out of duty or obligation and with the expectation of a return. I served to serve myself, in my own name, not out of an overflow of God’s love. It wasn’t until I began to truly believe that I am dearly loved by Him, that I learned to live and love sacrificially without strings attached. I became kinder, gentler, more generous; my relationship with the Lord and with my friends began to grow deeper roots and flourish.
As followers of Jesus, He partners with us in the process of loving well. He doesn’t ask us to heave forgiveness and compassion over our own shoulders without help; we just have to be willing to wear them. It is only through His Spirit at work in us that these garments can become beautiful, easy, light, and a joy to put on.
To be a good friend, the first place we must start is love, which binds everything together in perfect unity. If ever we find strings attached to the way we love and serve our friends, we must come back to the sacrificial love of Jesus until it becomes the apex of everything we do.
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19