Have you ever had someone hurt you with their words?
At this very moment could you be reeling from unkindness where the person speaking does not understand your heart?
Are you falsely accused and gossiped about?
I have been there, but more importantly so has Jesus. In Matthew 11:19 the ones that were jealous of Him and His powerful ministry said this. "Look a glutton and winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" They used the word "friend" sarcastically in a negative way because they looked down on Jesus for associating with the down and outer. But what a privilege to be counted among those Jesus calls a friend. He did not care who criticized Him, He chose to love and befriend people from all walks of life.
You are special. You are loved. You are invited into His friendship. Still today He calls and whispers words of kindness and love to the wounded.
I currently have the gift of my wonderful friend (Suzie) visiting from Winnipeg. Oh, the healing balm of true friendship to have someone understand my heart, my intentions, my sensitivity to the world around me. She is the hands and feet of Jesus because she has purposefully set out to learn what it means to love unconditionally and be a child of God. Jesus lives inside her and the love flows out. She is not afraid to challenge my thinking if it is off base, and we do not always instantly agree, but we have a pact to believe and bring out the best in each other. Now that is true friendship.
Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend loves at all times." This means to have a friend, and be a friend, we need to love unconditionally like Jesus did. He said in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." Jesus did this for all of us when he died on the cross. He was persecuted in every way possible including the ultimate sacrifice. He was mocked and ridiculed. He was scourged, stabbed and hung on a cross to die an agonizing death—for you and for me. Now that's a friend.
Through the friendship of Jesus and his resurrected power available to all believers there is strength to choose love when hated, to extend kindness in the face of tyranny, to love the unlovable. When I hurt and reel from unkind words (sometimes from those I love the most), I may not get to this place instantly. I may grapple with wanting to plead my case, or feel the claw and pull of retaliation, but always Jesus comes and whispers … "Be a friend, a true friend, one that loves at all times. (Sometimes this friendship may include a healthy boundary, but the way to guard against bitterness that destroys my soul is to pray for those who cause the pain.) Oh, the peace that passes all understanding as I embrace this truth and choose to love.
What a friend we have in Jesus. What a role model we have. And oh, the power He imparts to all who choose to walk in love. For Jesus said in John 15:14 "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." And He said in John 15:12, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
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