A couple weeks ago, we saw how expectations crush friendships.
Instead of expecting our friends to cure our loneliness, we can move toward faithful and life-giving relationships if we embrace the following principles:
1. Faithful friends support each other where they can.
Paul tells us, "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:9-10).
I can think of several friends who drove to see me or called up when they knew life was getting to me. To be human is to need support.
People won't cure your loneliness. However, friendship is an opportunity to live and love like Jesus — to lay down your life for your friends (John 15:13).
And when we lose our life, we find it (Matthew 10:39).
2. Faithful friends assume the best when feeling unsupported.
Even best friends won't always love us in the ways we hope. Our anger or disappointment can reveal that we expected too much of them.
When friends let us down — as Jesus' friends did (Matthew 26:36-46), we must remember that they have limits and weaknesses like us. Rather than assume we are the focus of their neglect, we learn to consider what's going on in their life (Philippians 2:3).
When we assume the best, we position our friendships to flourish, not wither.
3. Faithful friends don't expect each other to be Jesus.
The Apostle Paul knew relational abandonment.
At the end of his life, he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:9-16 from prison saying that Demas had deserted him, Alexander, the coppersmith, did him great harm, and no one stood beside him at his trial. But all rejected him.
Yet, he didn't grow cynical or bitter toward people. Instead, he wrote, "But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth" (2 Timothy 4:17).
Paul placed his burden of pain on Jesus' shoulders, which freed him to love people — even his enemies (Philippians 3:7-11, Matthew 5:43-44).
When anxiety or anger creep into friendships we love, we have to ask:
Am I trying to be Jesus for my friend?
Am I expecting my friend to meet needs only Jesus can?
4. Faithful friends point each other toward Jesus — our Faithful Friend.
The best gift you can offer friends is to direct their eyes toward Jesus. He alone is the true friend that will stick closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).
Jesus, our Faithful Friend
Where friends fail you, Jesus will succeed. When disappointments crush you, Jesus understands. As the ache of loneliness remains, Jesus is ready to meet you.
Consider this friend of ours with me.
Jesus knows your sorrow and pain. He is eager to help without shaming or guilting you. He walked into the vastness of death to save you and returned from that dark void to claim you. Jesus smiles over you. He delights in, prays over, and waits for you. Jesus loves you, and He will return. When He does, Jesus will reign and feast with you in eternal, unending friendship.
What a friend we have in Jesus. There is no one like Him. May we cherish this sacred friendship, and may it form and fuel all of our relationships.
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