Who Is A True Friend?

“The poor are shunned by all their relatives- how much more do their friends avoid them! Though the poor pursue them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found.” –Proverbs 19:7 (NIV)

The idea of fair-weather friends was a concept I was first introduced to in elementary school. Whenever a child has the latest toy or gadget, he was the coolest kid on the playground. Everybody wanted to be friends with him in hopes that their own prestige would be lifted up. However, this led the child to think that the attention he was receiving was true and genuine friendship. Thus, it was a sad sight to see the child’s dejected face when his so called “friends” deserted him after circumstances took away that which made him popular. Such scenes, of which even I was on the receiving end,  taught me  early that true friends stick with you regardless of your circumstances because they love you for who you are; not because of what you have or what you can do for them.

Yet sometimes it seems that we have not let go of this tragic attitude from childhood. How often do we pursue friendships only because we see something that we can gain for ourselves? While we might claim that we will stand by our friends no matter what comes their way, if selfish ambition has been the basis of our friendship then we will abandon them while they are in midst of trials. This will reveal not only how hollow our love was for them, but how crooked and shamelessly selfish we are as we trample over them by our betrayal. Perhaps we lament the destruction and misery we have caused by abandoning friends in their time of need and wonder if there is any way we can change. Our only hope is when we have allowed ourselves to be transformed by Christ. Sin has caused us to act in selfishness toward others, which is contrary to love. When we have allowed Christ’s Spirit to enter our hearts and free us from our sinful nature, He will help us see those around us through His eyes; as lost and broken souls in need of His love. By submitting ourselves in humility to Him He will cause His love and faithfulness to overflow from within our hearts so as to bring healing and hope to those who are hurting.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Love That Protects

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects…” -1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV)

Every day there is a Christian somewhere in the world undergoing persecution or hardship for their stand in Christ. Living in countries where corruption and tyranny are rampant, they must endure unspeakable torment and everyday is a fight against injustice and oppression. Some of their cases are reported by the mainstream media, but countless others are never brought into the light. However, there are organizations which fight to make sure that the stories and voices of these persecuted Christians are not silenced by the iron fist of their governments. Out of their love for the truth of Christ, and for those who stand up for it, these organizations risk much to bring awareness to the plight of the persecuted church. They assure them through tangible action that they have a voice and are supported by those who are praying for them and care about defending their right to exist and follow Jesus.

By the definition Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 13:6-7, love is not some passive feeling that keeps silent when trouble is brewing. Rather it will get itself involved and take the side of truth. When we have allowed Christ to enter our hearts and seek to know Him, He will give us a love for Him, which will then lead us to love His truth and to love those who speak His truth. What are we doing to defend our brothers and sisters when they encounter opposition for their stand in Christ? Do we remain silent, content with preserving our own reputation in the eyes of the crowd? Or will we join our voices with those who will do anything to speak life into the lives of others. Granted, it can be a hard decision at times for our instinctive human reaction is to lean toward the former. But when we lean on Christ and allow Him to strengthen us, He will give us the confidence to speak the truth in love so that we may be an encouragement and blessing not only to those who are thirsty to hear, but to those who are working towards the same goal as well.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

An Eternal Flame

“Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.” –Song of Solomon 8:7a (NIV)

The concept of an eternal flame has found its place in many countries around the world. Placed before memorial sites it is supposed to be a symbol honouring the legacy of fallen soldiers or representative of the nation’s commitment to remember a significant event in their history. In Japan for example, an eternal flame burns in a memorial park in Hiroshima. Being the first city to experience the horrors of nuclear warfare when it was bombed in August 1945, the eternal flame is to be extinguished only until the complete abolition of nuclear weapons has been achieved. No amount of water can put out this fire for it is constantly maintained and fuelled by propane or natural gas; thereby signifying the unwavering resolve of the people to never forget no matter the cost and work towards the goal it represents.

Is our love for others like an eternal flame? If we are truly honest, we can think of times when our love has been extinguished by the waters of anger and frustration. We allow situations to take control of our minds and snuff out our love, instead allowing our anger to rear its head. An extinguished fire cannot provide warmth and hope to other. Likewise when we have allowed our circumstances to overwhelm our love, we become cold and unable to provide that warmth which people need. It is only when Christ dwells within us that the fire of our love will keep burning despite what we face. When we have allowed Him to enter our hearts, His love will overflow from within us. Nothing, neither situations nor people, will be able to prevent the love of Christ from shining forth from our lives when we seek to abide in Him. With our security rooted in Christ, He will enable His love to radiate from us regardless of what we face, bringing hope and life to others.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.