Love Your Friends and Watch Yourself

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)

I woke up this morning praying for a friend. The night before, I listened to her perspective and her trials and, like any good friend, I offered support and empathy. This morning the Holy Spirit brought correction to me, reminding me that the best way to love her is to care for her relationship with God before caring for her emotions and feelings.

I realized that in supporting my friend, I overlooked temptation that might lead to sin. I focused instead on how to ease her situation, make things more bearable. You know what that’s like, “I’m so sorry she said that. You’re right – she is too self-absorbed”, or “I’m sorry you are going through that. I can understand why you would feel resentful. Maybe you could spend less time with him/her or just ignore their request for now….”

Harmless Temptation?

Every sin begins with seemingly harmless temptation. We think temptation is harmless when we do not succumb to it. We think temptation is harmless when it comes and goes and we did not fall into some big mess. So long as it does not cause disaster in our lives, we think its less serious than it really is. But beware – because with one temptation that is easily passed up may come another and another, each more likely to wear us down.

I was not a good friend

A good friend would have stopped offering comfort and instead offered the wisdom of God’s word, and the importance of standing firm in the trial. Today, I will reach out, ask for forgiveness for being a less-than-godly friend, and pray that she may withstand every evil plan of the enemy no matter how difficult it may seem. I pray today my words will make things right.

“But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted”

It’s also easy to view ourselves as “on top of it” as we minister to our loved ones. “But watch yourselves”. In my leniency towards my friend, I am giving silent permission to think less seriously about that same temptation for sin in my life. This is how the one who gives advice becomes one who falls first.

In our friendships, as iron sharpens iron, let’s always come back to the reason we are sharp in the first place: God’s Word. Without His standard, we create our own standards, and our own standards (I say this with all love and respect) are just not good enough.
Let’s love one another with a holy love, striving first to keep each other blameless, and taking every teaching for ourselves as well, lest we forget the truth we once spoke.

Prayer:

Dear Lord God, you are so good to us, giving us grace and mercy. Let us not take these for granted, and let us use our will, our words, and our giftings to fight the good fight. Help us to love our friends with your love, not ours. Help us to see the potential for selfishness in our friendships, so that we won’t place more importance on the friendship itself than on the well-being of our loved one. This is how others will know we are your disciples. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

Join the Conversation!

I was selfish last night, wanting to bring comfort to a friend. doesn’t it seem odd that bringing comfort, which seems like such a noble cause, can actually be self-serving? It appears as such a subtle, nearly undetectable deviation from God’s plan for us. Yet entire relationships are sometimes built on this need for “happy” friendships. How can we avoid being selfish in our relationships (friends, marriage, family)? Leave examples, scripture wisdom, and advice in the comments below.

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