|Last week, I wrote about unselfishness being a characteristic trait of one who is a friend. We see this trait in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, and in our Heavenly Father. If we are to imitate Christ as Paul wrote:|
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…”1
When I have the mind of Christ, it means that I can be unselfish. It also means that I can be honest. If I am to be honest, I must be transparent about myself. I must be willing to allow others to see and know who I really am. Sometimes, the challenge we face as Christians is conforming to perceptions of who others think we should be.
Being diagnosed with a serious medical condition can lead me down a path where I’m uncomfortable talking openly about my personal struggles. Many men and women have to face the reality of being let go by their employer after years of hard work. Some come to learn that getting that next job can be a difficult river to navigate. Parents may struggle with a son or daughter who is caught up in a lifestyle which includes the self-destructive use of drugs and or alcohol. Some are faced with the suicide, murder or death (from another cause) of a loved one. There may be the tendency to put on a happy face despite the underlying conflict within.
What will my friends and family think of me if they know I am struggling?
The truth is that even the ones we look up to as towers of faith and strength face doubts and reservations about life. Saying so doesn’t make me less faithful. Acknowledging that I need God’s grace is an honest expression of my faith. Affirming that God’s grace is sufficient for me is the assurance I need to face whatever struggles I experience in this life.
Being a friend means that I’m comfortable listening to the perspectives of others (about me), and knowing the difference between wisdom and criticism. It also means that I’m willing and comfortable with being accountable to my friends. When I’m not willing to be accountable, I’m really not being honest.
We can see the example of Christ being both honest and accountable to the Father:
“The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”2
Being honest and accountable begins with my relationship with God, and extends in my relationships with those I know here on earth. I don’t question God’s love for me; I have many examples which demonstrate His love. But I know there have been instances when I questioned the love others claim to have for me. I realize now that what I was really questioning was my own ability to love; really love by freely being honest with them about my life.
I’m not inferring here that having the mind of Christ means that I’m a people pleaser. On the contrary, having the mind of Christ enables me to focus on pleasing God with the life I’ve been entrusted to live. That for me is the ideal way of being a friend to others. I want to be compassionate, caring and honest, so that others know they can count on me being the kind of friend who isn’t afraid to be honest. I also means that I'm sensitive and caring enough to know that sometimes, it’s better to listen rather than speak.
I’ve been guilty enough times to know than anyone can spout off a bunch of words which may be true, but lack compassion, and honesty so that they just ring out as hollow sounding piety. Those kinds of words never help, they cut wounds; deep, raw, and painful wounds which on some occasions, never quite heal properly.
If I am to be a friend, I must support my unselfish mind with the backbone of honesty.
|Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).|