Becca addresses such a real part of friendships today as she speaks about accountability and correction!
A friend loves at all times, even when it’s not comfortable. by Becca Mabry
Proverbs 17:17 tells us, “A friend loves at all times.” But, sometimes that love looks different in different seasons. It is often easy to confuse love with feelings of happiness and contentment. It is easy to feel and receive love when there is a lot of laughter, inside jokes, and affirmation. However, sometimes love has to come in the form of correction. Sometimes love is spurring on our friends towards holiness and purity. Sometimes love is prodding them, challenging them to face the sins in their lives. Sometimes love in friendship is actually kind of painful and uncomfortable, especially when it comes in the form of correction.
Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Our hearts often desire sinful things. Our friends’ hearts often desire sinful things. We need each other to keep our hearts in check. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” We need close friends, and we need to be a close friend. Close friends are those who know and see all of us; the good, the bad, and the ugly, and who stand beside us through it all. Nobody likes to be told “no” or that they are doing something wrong. But, how unloving would it be to allow someone you care for to go down a path that will hurt them, here on earth, and potentially for all of eternity? Romans 13:4 gives us a reality check, “But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” While our God is loving, He is also wrathful. When we see waywardness in our friends, we need to point them back to truth.
So how do we lovingly correct our friends?
Frist, go to scripture. Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Scripture is our test to assess if the things that we desire and pursue are things of God or if they are a result of our unregenerate flesh. Scripture gives us guidelines of purity and holiness that leads to the way of life.
Pray for boldness and meekness. We need boldness in confronting our friends, but we also need meekness and humility in our approach. God affirms in Psalm 25:9 that, “He teaches the humble His way.” And in Proverbs 3:34, He shows us how He responds to the heart of the proud and the heart of the humble. “He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble.” Before confronting those we love, we need to do a heart check to make sure we are approaching them in love, grace, and humility and fleeing from a heart of pride.
Pray for words to say. Ask for gentle words. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” It is our responsibility to restore, or correct, our friends. But, we must do so in a gentle way. Colossians 4:6 encourages, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Salt gives flavor. Make sure that your words don’t leave a bad taste in others’ mouths, but may your words leave a gracious flavor, one that they would want to savor. Salt also helps to prevent spoil. May the words that you speak to your friends preserve their soul in a world that seeks to taint it. I have hurt many people that I love, my very best friend included, and when I approached them out of love, but I did not do so gently. Pray for God to give you words to say. Pray for God to show you how to love them well by correcting them gently through your words. At times our hearts mean well but our mouths get us in trouble. In Exodus 4:11-12, God speaks to Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say." The same God who empowered Moses to speak to Pharaoh and the Hebrews, is the same God who lives and dwells within us. God desires to correct and comfort the hearts of our friends. He is faithful to give us the words to do so.
Pray for their heart and trust in God. Pray for the hearts of your friends to receive truth. Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” God’s Word does not return void. If we faithfully speak truth to our friends, we can expect God to do the rest.
Affirm their identity in Christ. As women, when someone tells us that something we DO is wrong, we often mistake it and incorrectly hear that WE are wrong. We must love and correct our friends, as well as be corrected by them, in a way to reaffirms their identity in Christ. Romans 8:1 declares, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Remind your friends that neither you, nor God, nor themselves, nor anyone can condemn them if they are in Christ. God, the Judge, sees Jesus’ righteousness, not our short comings. Reaffirm them that they are seen as spotless, blameless, holy, and pure by The Lord. Colossians 1:22 gives deep peace to my heart by saying, “But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” Don’t let your friends dwell in the false identity that sin tempts us to dwell in. Make sure they know that with repentance, all sin is gone, never to be seen again. In being confronted of our sins, we have a great opportunity to experience grace and mercy deeply. Romans 5:20 says, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Encourage your friends to accept and live under the overwhelming grace of God.
“Loving at all times” does not mean making others happy all the time. It means pointing them to eternity for the fullness of their joy and the glory of God.
I’m a public relations major. Well, I guess I was a public relations major (alumna status is weird, y’all). Point being, people often ask me why I chose this field of study. Typically I have two answers to give.
I was asked in an interview a few weeks ago how I would establish, nurture and maintain relationships. It was my favorite question that I’ve ever been asked in an interview. “Relationships are the cornerstone of who I am,” was the sentence that led my response. I had never said that before and I don’t remember stringing those words together in my mind before I heard them come out of my mouth. But they were so true and so captivating of my heart and who I am.
I can remember in middle school, having my first “mean girls” experience. The thing that hurt the most wasn’t that someone had gone out of their way to hurt me, it was that I had gone out of my way to fix things, and no one seemed to care. That was the first time my mom ever told me, “Sarah, your heart cares about people.” Those words have stuck with me and have so often helped me to make sense of my emotions and actions, especially when it comes to relationships.
I often find myself in a place of having to remind myself that people view relationships differently, and therefore function in them differently. Have you ever heard of the five love languages? If not, I encourage you to find what yours is and read all about them here (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/).
Most people have multiple love languages. My first one is “words of affirmation.” Basically this can be summed up by saying that, for me, actions don’t always speak louder than words. I’ve been in relationships and had friendships with people who thrive on the opposite notion—that actions always speak louder than words. As you can imagine, these different views can make for a difficult time. So often I have to make a conscious effort to take a step back and look at the other person’s love language. I may be waiting to hear them say something I feel is necessary—a conversation that I want to have. But they may be waiting for me to do something—to take an action toward resolving the problem at hand.
That example may seem pretty simple, and I’ll admit that the concept is simple too.
People love differently, so we must love people differently.
But taking that concept and applying it to our relationships can make a dynamic impact. And in the process, we practice Christlikeness. We abandon what we want and what we think we need and put the hearts of others before our own. We sacrifice our desires in order to let someone else feel loved, cared for and known. People will see Jesus in that, and your relationships will thrive because of it. Will it be easy? No, not always. Stepping into someone else’s shoes and seeing things from a point of view that’s not your own isn’t always fun and is rarely easy. But lean into Jesus. Ask for understanding, patience and a desire to love how He loves--unconditionally and selflessly. Because if we are called to be like Christ, and Christ is love, then we are called to practice a love like His.
1 John 4:16 - And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in them.
Watching the news these days is pretty depressing, isn’t it? It seems like each day there is some tragedy that happened, some political debate being talked about or some injustice being practiced. It’s these things that should move our hearts as the church, to respond and pray for revival to come. So where do we look? How do we, as the church, fight for the truth? The book of Acts is all about the gospel being preached and the church being multiplied. This is where we need to look as we shape how we do ministry on a day to day basis with a community of believers.
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper) and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
When we look at this verse we can see 4 disciplines that caused great movement in the church. These four things were the foundation of their walk with Jesus and is an example we should follow.
“All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
We are to study the word together. God’s word is our source of life. If we are not being fed by Scripture, we will see the negative effects of that in our life. Reading through the Word together allows for accountability and energizes and strengthens our relationship with God. We have the opportunity to wrestle through hard or confusing passages together and ask God for wisdom and that is a gift! If we have to eat 3 times a day to keep our bodies alive, remember how important it is to feed our bodies with the Word daily.
“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” 1 Corinthians 12:26
Fellowship is more than the 2 hours you spend at church on Sundays. Fellowship is a daily interaction with believers. We are to share our lives together- every part of it. We share our burdens, worries, and struggles so our community can come in and support us. We also get to rejoice and celebrate with each other in the blessings. If you don’t have a community of believers that you can share the good and bad with, pray that the Lord would strategically place people in your life! It is, however, our duty to make it a priority. It may be uncomfortable at first, especially if you are doing it alone. But if it is a desire of your heart, the Lord will answer that prayer.
Breaking of Bread/Sharing Meals
“They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity-all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.” Acts 2:46
We need to be daily reminded of the work Jesus did on the cross. Because of the cross, we have fellowship with Jesus, we have been reconciled to God! We get to sit down to a meal with Jesus and with each other. Let’s remember this truth each day as the apostles did.
Prayer is so powerful. Isn’t it amazing to think that we have immediate access to God, our Father, all the time, no matter what the circumstances? How often do we take that for granted? I don’t know about y’all but having someone pray over me is such a refreshing and life giving moment. To hear words of encouragement spoken over me from friends and brothers and sisters in Christ immediately softens my heart. I recently went on a trip with my church and the Sunday before we left, we went to the front of the church and they prayed over us. Hearing the support and prayers from the community that was sending us out brought so much peace as we left. I knew that we had people praying for us the entire week and that was powerful! I challenge you to be a person of prayer- when God has put something or someone on your heart- pray for them right then, no matter where you are at!
“And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47
Pray for revival in each of these areas of your heart. As the Lord revives our hearts, we can go and revive those places He has called us each to individually and as the church. We are meant to live in community with other believers and as we do life together, great movements can happen in a world that so desperately needs Jesus.