Lord, what a friend You are. Teach us to be a friend like You.
A Friend’s Love was the topic of study this last week. What is it that makes someone your friend? What characteristics and qualities do your closest friends have?
Friends are people we are comfortable with. We like talking to them and spending time with them. Even when you haven’t seen a friend in years, you can pick up right where you left off.
Read Exodus 33:7-11
How did the Lord speak to Moses?
What does it mean to speak to someone “face to face”?
Friends speak to one another openly. Revealing themselves to one another.
Late Saturday evening as I worked in the yard, my husband came to tell me our close friends were in town visiting family. He explained he wanted to go visit for a while, and asked me to go with him. I was a little hesitant. I still had much to do to get ready for Easter Sunday and time was running out. I wavered back and forth for a moment, and decided to go with him.
As we drove to their family’s home I grew more and more excited. We haven’t seen our friends for months. When we arrived we were greeted at the door with so much love. We visited and talked as if no time had passed between us. I played with their girls and when we got up to leave and said goodbye, the youngest jumped into my arms and hugged me tight.
God gave me a flesh and blood picture of friendship… the kind of friend He is to me. When I come to Him, He is genuinely happy to see me. He longs to talk and visit, to share both the good and tough stuff. He is a friend who lovingly accepts who I am and cares about what’s going on in my life. A friend who gives tight hugs and won’t let go and whispers so sweetly with a smile… I love you!
God is willing to speak to His people face to face. The spiritual discipline for the week was to talk with God about your friendship with Him through a prayer discipline called a colloquy.
Did you engage God in a colloquy this week? If so, how did it go? If not, what prevented you from trying it?
Asking God about my friendship with Him was very humbling and overwhelming.
He opened my heart to new aspects of our relationship, ones I haven’t fully received or walked in.
Like a good Friend, He also spoke truth I needed to hear about myself. But when uncomfortable truth comes from a loving Friend, it is received with an open heart.
Recite the memory verse:
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
We looked at a friend’s love this week through the relationship between Jonathan and David, and God to Believers. We saw Jonathan lay down his life for David, giving him his robe and weapons of war, all that identified him as a son of the king (1 Samuel 18:1-4). And we saw Jesus lay down His life for us, and in receiving His friendship by faith, He blesses us with His identity, making us sons of God (2 Corinthians 5:16-21).
The love of a friend changes us.
Read Exodus 34:29-35
How did Moses’s face time with God affect him?
Who noticed the change in Moses?
Time spent with a friend changes us. We become like one another. Moses reflected God’s glory, but the change was imperceptible to him, but to others the change was clearly apparent.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:33
What do we see happen in this verse?
Change happens both ways, either good or bad. We must choose our friends wisely.
A friend willingly risks loss for the sake of the one he loves. We each have experience with friendship in our lives. But friendship with people is always different than friendship with our Savior.
I’ve experienced some shifts in relationships lately I’m not sure what to do with. People I thought were safe to share my faith struggles with have turned out to be stumbling blocks.
And one who I’ve been fearful of being a stumbling block to when it comes to faith has been supportive and encouraging.
People change. We are all on a different place in our journey. Counting on people is not the place to find security. Jesus is the only friend who will never change. We might not always understand what He’s up to, but He is faithful to the end. We must never put a human relationship over our relationship with Him.
Read Luke 11:5-8
What kind of friendship is described here?
A friendship of convenience: “If you make my life inconvenient, you are not much of a friend.”
Does the friend act out of love?
Friendship with people can be fickle. The friend in these verses did not act out of love for his friend, but got up and gave him what he needed just to get him to go away. He gave to his friend so he could get what he wanted — back to sleep!
Read John 11:1-15
How did Jesus show His love for Lazarus, Martha, and Mary?
Did He respond to their need?
How does this love compare to the neighbor giving the bread in the middle of the night?
Jesus loved Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, yet He did not go when they called Him. He waited until Lazarus died.
Does this seem like something a good friend would do?
How can we reconcile what Jesus did with the love of a friend?
Read John 11:4 again.
What did Jesus say was the purpose of Lazarus’s illness?
The illness was for God’s glory. Jesus’s love as a friend is centered on glorifying God in and through our lives.
Are you willing to let Jesus use you to glorify God?
Friends have the same purpose in their lives. They share a common goal. When we are friends with Jesus we long to see Him and His Father glorified because we love them.
A friend’s love handles words carefully.
What does a gossip or whisperer do?
Gossip separates close friends.
The love of a friend holds his tongue and covers an offense with love.
I’m not sure how we got on the subject… my daughter and I discussing a loved one’s situation. As we talked, I listened to her cover the situation with grace. She said things like, “Do you see how they feel responsible for every situation? How that can cause stress?” And then she said, “I get it. I’m a lot like that.”
I sat quietly listening as my daughter displayed the grace I wanted to have in this situation. She was willing to cover their offense with compassion and mercy because of her love for them. It was a beautiful humbling moment.
What do these verses say about a friend’s words?
A friend may wound us by rebuking us and speaking truth in our lives, but these wounds are faithful and help us grow. Earnest counsel is sweet to a true friend’s heart.
People do not always give great counsel. Job’s friends’ counsel during a very dark time in his life, made him wish they would just shut up (Job 13:5). Their words did not bring comfort or peace.
Jesus always gives wise counsel. He speaks the truth in love. When He convicts our heart, He leaves a faithful wound which brings healing.
A friend’s love can be fragile when it comes to the human heart. Betrayal of a friend is painful.
What kind of pain is described in these verses?
Jesus is a friend who will never betray. He will speak truth in love and wound us with conviction but He will never betray — He will not condemn. We can come to Him for comfort when friends made of flesh fail us.
Jesus’s love reveals truth and makes the way for healing.
Read Matthew 11:19
Who did Jesus befriend?
Read Matthew 9:10-12
Why did Jesus seek out the kind of friends He did?
Do you see yourself among the people Jesus befriended?
Jesus wanted to bring healing to those who were spiritually ill. Those who know they are sick will receive help from a physician. He loved these people because they knew who they were and wanted to be healed.
A friend’s love is full of grace.
Read 1 Timothy 1:12-14
What did Paul thank Jesus for?
What does Paul say about Jesus’s grace?
Jesus’s grace is more abundant than our sins which come from ignorant unbelief.
Have you experienced the grace of God’s love in your life? Does His gracious love make you more or less willing to offer grace to others?
Stealing Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 15:10, I can say: God’s grace has not been without effect on me. It is far more than I deserve, but of course if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be grace.
I am amazed at how His grace helps me to be more gracious with others. But I’ve found, the closer I am to someone, the harder it is to offer grace sometimes. I see it especially in my relationship with my husband, who I also call friend.
I can be so awful when it comes to my tone of voice with Him. Especially when I feel I’m not going to get what I want out of a situation. This is one of the things God talked to me about in our colloquy. He said my fear of not getting what I want was preventing me from loving others well.
He told me not to fear missing out on what I want, because He is the fulfillment of all my heart’s desire. This is a shift I need to make in my faith journey to help me love others, especially my husband, as I would like to.
A friend’s love is abundantly gracious, willing to overlook sins of ignorance. We are called to love like Jesus (John 15:12), not like the world.
Read James 4:4-6
What does James say about friendship with the world?
When we choose the love of the world over the love of God, we make ourselves His enemies.
What does God yearn for jealously ?
God longs for our spirits to be His spirits. He wants us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27). He is jealous for us.
What does God’s response to the proud versus the humble reveal about love?
Those who love God know their dependence on Him and come before Him humbly. Those who are proud snub their nose at Him, they have been deceived into thinking they are independent beings and all they have is of their own making.
God’s love is just as evident in His opposition of the proud, as in His favor to the humble. By opposing the proud, He may open their eyes to their need for Him, and they could become one of the humble on whom He pours out favor.
This is the spirit of God’s love and the aspect of exercising faith we are going deeper into next week: The Spirit of Love.
The spiritual discipline for The Spirit of Love we’re calling:
Make the Word Flesh
Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). He came to reveal how to live the Word we received in Scripture. He put flesh on it, made it applicable to our lives.
This week we’re asking you to put flesh on the spirit of God’s love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. These verses are God’s definition of love, they reveal the spirit of God’s love.
We will prayerfully address each aspect of the love described, i.e., love is patient, and consider a personal application. Ask God: “Who do I need to be more patient with? Why?”
Continuing through each aspect: love is kind… love does not envy… love does not boast… love is not arrogant… love is not rude… we will apply each characteristic of the spirit of love to our lives personally. Seeking God’s help in the process and asking Him to work in our hearts to enable and empower us to love with His Spirit.
Dear Lord, Open our hearts to see You as our Friend. Fill us with the Spirit of Your love.
Click here for a PDF of the homework: Going Deeper – Week 24 – The Spirit of Love – Homework