Day 3: A Friend’s Love
“…Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. …”
John 15:13 ESV
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
—What a Friend We Have In Jesus, United Methodist Hymnal
When I think of Jesus as friend, I can hear my mom singing this song. I’ve found the lyrics are true. When I take it to Him — my grief, temptation, trouble — I find a faithful friend.
I’ll never forget His lesson in friendship when I struggled with this concept: love lays down his life for his friend… I took the Word literally. I took it to God. Carried it around in my mind. Wondering, “If this is love, dying for a friend, do we only get to truly love once?”
He rewarded my questions, my seeking, with revelation. The television remote was a source of contention between my husband and me for years. Arguing over what we would watch. Me complaining. Husband holding his ground (and the remote!). One evening I was prepared for a rerun of the same argument when His Spirit said to mine: Love lays down its life for a friend. Ahhhh! Revelation!
Laying down one’s life means not only being prepared and willing to literally die for a friend, but also laying down your own way, your rights, your wants, so the one you love can have their way. So yes, for many years since I’ve been loving my husband by giving him control of the remote. Laying down my way, my life, for a friend. And learning to love others this way too.
Family is chosen for us (father, mother, brothers, sisters…) and we love them by default, they are part of our lives. But friendship is different, we get to choose our friends, and it begins with affection. We are drawn to them. We like them. When we like them and they like us, we build a bond of friendship.
We are attracted to people for different reasons. Mutual interests or friends. They make us laugh or feel good about ourselves. Generosity. No matter the origin of the relationship, all friendships have one thing in common: There’s just something we like about our friend.
So here’s a thought. Jesus longs to be our Friend because He likes us. Has affection for us. But WHY?
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? —Psalm 8:3-4 ESV
He left everything behind to become part of His creation to show His great love for us. He said, Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. And that’s exactly what He did.
Even though all our efforts at righteousness are like filthy disgusting rags (Isaiah 64:6) and we are responsible for breaking everything He created, bringing sin, bondage, and death into the world (Romans 5:12, Romans 8:20-21), He came to reveal just how much He likes us. Loves us, even.
Read Romans 5:8. How did He demonstrate His love for us?
Yes, Jesus demonstrated the greatest love for us by laying down His life. He is our Friend. The Best Friend.
But not everyone is a best friend, there are different depths of friendship. Social media friends are one of the most superficial. The only things we know about our online friends are the things they choose to reveal, in the way they want to reveal it. And of course we do the same. Some friends are simply acquaintances at work or from our involvement in organizations. Then there are friends we’ve had for years who have been tested and tried through ups and downs, trials and joys.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. —Proverbs 18:24 ESV
A shallow friendship will most likely dissolve when life gets messy and we need help. Superficial acquaintances may even be the cause of our difficulties because of gossip, backbiting or using what we’ve shared in confidence for their own gain. But a true friend is one who knows us and still likes us. One we’ve spent time with building relationship. One who’s forgiven us. Loved us through terrible times and good times. Endured our crankiness and understood slights brought on from outside pressures. These types of friends can be more faithful than any family member. This is the kind of friend we have in Jesus.
According to the world, friends help us cover up, go along with lies, cheating, stealing, even join in. Steal for us, lie for us, sin with us. Friends with benefits… really!? This attitude is destructive and ungodly. It disrespects, diminishes, and denigrates His sacrifice. Our greatest Friend endured beating, spitting, nail piercing so we might know the truth of His love.
Real friends speak the truth in love, even when it hurts. A true friend has our best interest at heart. They desire us to grow in righteousness and grace. Those who tell us only what we want to hear, falsely build us up, lead to our destruction as sure as our worst enemies.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of the enemy.
—Proverbs 27:6 ESV
A friend does not let you slide. A friend is a true guide. Jesus is a Friend who speaks truth in love. He doesn’t want us to stay in dark places of bondage and deception. He speaks truth to protect us from harm and keep us on track. A friend is more concerned for us, than how we feel about them. And there’s always risk when speaking truth. Sometimes truth-full friends offend our sense of self-righteousness. With hearts unprepared to receive truth and the freedom that goes with it, there is the potential to walk away from, break with, a loving friend.
The world skews our understanding of a friend’s love, but Jesus sets it straight. Even when we fail He doesn’t condemn or broadcast the news all over town: Did you hear about….? He offers wise counsel and covers our failing with His blood.
Read Proverbs 17:9. What does this verse tell us about a friend’s love?
Instead of using His friends’ faults or misfortunes as fuel for gossip, He takes what He knows and covers it. True friends won’t help us cover up, but they will cover us with love.
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. —Proverbs 27:9 ESV
Sweet, sweet Jesus. The best Friend a sister could have.
Talk It Out
Talk it over with yourself:
Think about the friendships you’ve had in your life. What kinds of friends have you had?
What kind of friend have you been?
Talk it over with God:
Ask God to show you where your definition of friend has been twisted by the world. Then ask Him to open your heart to His definition of a loving friend.
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
James 4:4 ESV
Exercise Your Faith
Name those you consider faithful friends. Write them in your journal.
Give thanks for each of them today.
We ________________ _____________________ He first
________________ _________. ______________ _____ : _____