Love Your Friends

“A friend loves at all times,”- Proverbs 17:17a (NIV)

The beautiful thing about friendship is that it is timeless. Even if close friends have been separated by time and distance, the love and bond between them still remains. God has blessed me with such friendships and my prayer is that I will be a good friend to the ones He has given me. But friendships can often be fragile, and it is tragic when friends part under unpleasant circumstances. When harmful attitudes such as anger, jealousy, or impatience seep into the minds of friends even the most trivial of offences can separate the strongest of bonds. The consequences of allowing these attitudes to infiltrate our minds are painful and as we look back on the memories of broken friendships we are filled with regret wondering if things could have been different if we had simply not taken the steps we took.

All of us are but humans and as such we have been tainted by sin. Due to our fallen state, it is easy for us to give into harmful and destructive attitudes. Sin tells us that we must always glorify ourselves and insist on having our way at all costs. But in reality when we place ourselves before others, we have actually bowed our knee to sin and allowed it to sever our relationship with God and with those we care about. How then can we make sure that sin does not get in the way of our relationships?  The truth is that we can do nothing about it by ourselves, but only by the power of Christ working within us. When we have allowed His Spirit to enter our hearts and seek to conform ourselves to Him in our attitudes and actions, He will carry out his restorative work in our lives. As we turn our face to Him and away from ourselves, He will train us in His love so that His love will overflow from our hearts and into the lives of others. Bearing with one another in love is something that only Christ can help us accomplish and when we choose to abide in Christ, He will order our friendships so that life may abound and hearts be turned to Him.

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.

Overcome Factions With Love

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” –John 13:35 (NIV)

Studying church history is quite fascinating. Yet it is also interesting to learn just how many times the church had to overcome factionalism in its history. Even from its early days the church had to deal with discord and schisms which erupted within its ranks on more than one occasion. Some of these disagreements even turned violent, and were in most cases motivated by personal or political reasons. As I read through the annals of church history I sometimes wonder whether I am reading about the same people who have been called by Christ Himself to love one another just as how He has loved us. It is no wonder that the disparity between the example of Christ and the behaviour of His children at times has become a source of confusion for many; prompting us to ask the question why does this happen?

If one thing can be said of the church it is that it has not survived for over two millennia because of the efforts of man. On the contrary it is because of the love of Christ and the grace which He shows to His church that it still stands strong today. The truth of the matter is that every single human being on this Earth is fallen. It is our pride embedded within us which leads us into sin and compels us to become embittered and fight against our fellow man. However, Christ came so that through Him our fallen nature will be cast aside and we will be restored to the people which He intended us to be. To this end He has given us a new nature through His resurrection characterized by His love and righteousness. But because we were slaves to our old nature for so long, we need to allow Christ’s Spirit residing within us to train us in our new nature and perfect His love in us. This means desiring to know Him and to know His heart by spending time reading His Word and being in His presence. Disagreements will happen, but if we choose to not keep in step with the Spirit of Christ, then factions and sin will be the result. It is only when we constantly submit ourselves in humility to Christ and allow Him to work out our His love through us that we are able to love others and maintain unity. The choice is ours. Will we allow sin to taint our witness for Christ, or will we allow Him to use us so that we may be His lights in a world which needs hope?

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.