Relationships First: Friendships

Day 5: Romans 12:9-13

Who am I a friend to? Am I a friend to my spouse and my children? Am I a friend to the cashier at the local store? Am I a friend to the stranger who is asking for help? How about the one who isn’t asking but the need is obvious?

To answer the question of 'Who am I?' we must first know what it means to be a friend. To be a friend is to display love -- genuine affection. It’s obviously more natural to love our family and people we are more familiar with, but is it possible to have genuine affection for a stranger?

Have you ever received genuine affection from someone you didn’t know? Surely you have. No one is born automatic friends!

We read in Romans 12 that practicing hospitality and being willing to serve others in their times of need are acts of friendship. A kind gesture during a moment of uncertainty can form a bond of friendship that will stand the test of time.

When I was a young mother, one of my little ones wandered into my new neighbor’s yard while I was tending to my youngest. Did I mention it was two houses down? I was shocked to hear the knock on my door! Then I was horrified by a sweet voice asking “Is this your little girl?” I was mortified! What kind of mom loses sight of her child, right?

Instead of judging me and causing me further embarrassment, my neighbors invited me into their home. They wrapped me in a blanket of love and shared their own moments of embarrassment. A near instant bond was formed! We became friends and soon we were the best of friends.

Over the years our bond has become more toward that of a family. We’ve shared memories of joy and of pain and of hope. Of all of these moments, the ones that shine brightest for me are the moments of grace. These strangers showed me compassion and kindness in a time of my weakness, and a friendship was born.

There were several times in our friendship that trust was betrayed. Maybe that’s been the root of destruction in some of your relationships. Still (as always for us) grace was used as a blanket, and it covered each moment of broken trust.

Grace healed what someone on the outside may have seen as irreversible damage. The example of kindness and willingness to forgive was beautiful and humbling.

These acts continually led me to a deeper love for Jesus as I grew to understand his unconditional love for me. The love of Christ was the foundation of the friendship that was unlike any I had ever known. The true bond of our friendship was built on grace.

Genuine affection is love based and built on grace. It can forgive and understand weaknesses. Grace shows compassion. A love full of grace can see past differences and form friendship on the smallest commonality.

The gift of perfect love was given to us first by God and shown to us in the life and sacrifice of Jesus. His pursuit of our hearts is reckless and boundless. It seeks us in some of our most vulnerable moments and at just the perfect time presents itself in friendship.

Ask yourself today: What is one way I can show compassion and genuine affection to someone I encounter today?