|In Part 1, I wrote about the trait of unselfishness; in order to be a friend I must be willing to give myself to others. In Part 2, I wrote about the trait of honesty; in order to be a friend I must be honest with others about myself. In this third and final part, I want to share what I believe is the third trait one must have to be a friend; I must be willing to love.|
The word love can be and is interpreted to mean so many things to every one of us, but if we look in scripture we find one supreme example of love:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”1
In order to understand the depth of God’s love, we must acknowledge that He gave what no ordinary person would do; He gave His one and only Son.
Love is really about my willingness to give. The mistake we humans make is in our effort to get something from others. We confuse getting with love in the belief that it will bring satisfaction, but getting only leads to an emptiness which must be further fueled by additional getting. Sadly, so many relationships have become stranded (much like a beached whale in the hot sun) because one or both people never truly understood the value of genuinely loving someone other than themselves. A friend never seeks to have the advantage in a relationship. A friend never has an attitude of getting something from a friend. That’s not what I would call friendship; words like self-serving, manipulator and deceptive readily come to my mind.
A friend loves in such a way that they are willing to give to another; it’s a conscious choice they’ve made.
Love really is about giving!
When you learn to give love, you realize it’s not about someone else living up to your expectations, because the truth is they cannot. In this life, every one of us have said things, done things that we regret (I know I have), but I’ve come to appreciate God’s love for me in spite of my personal failures. Discovering this truth has helped me to see the need to love others not on the basis of what they do, but on the basis of who they are. This change has freed me to love in a way I didn’t know was possible.
I remember having a discussion with a single mom about love and she contrasted the love for her child to the love for her ex-husband. I understood her to say that her husband failed in some way that prevented her from continuing with the marriage. I asked if her child ever disappointed her in some way that was unforgivable and she could not fathom an instance when no matter what the child did, there would ever come a time she could not love her child. Her answer made me wonder how the mother of a murderer, thief, or liar would respond. Some might say that it’s a maternal thing with women that enables them to love someone they’ve birthed into the world, but then, not all women exhibit that trait. Some mothers abuse their children, some even kill them. A mother must choose to love her child, she must choose to give love, no matter how much disappointment a child may cause in her life.
Can it be any different to choose to love someone I didn’t give birth to?
Adoptive parents are capable of loving a child which is not biologically related.
They choose to love. They choose to give their life to another.
How does a husband love an unfaithful wife? How does a wife love an abusive husband? How do I love a friend who betrays me?
These are not questions which can be answered with a fortune cookie. There are hard questions which challenge the longevity of relationships and friendships. If I am going to be a friend, I must understand and accept that the durability of my love for others will face adversity, disappointment, and possibly regret. In the end, it will come down to what I choose.
Is this person worthy of my love? Am I willing to continue this friendship?
Please understand that I am not advocating anyone be a doormat. On the contrary, we all understand the need for boundaries. There are parameters which each of us accepts as part of any friendship; if they are not explicit, they should be implicitly understood. Friendship requires an open channel of honest communication between two people. Friendship requires a level of trust that demonstrates dependability and loyalty. Others may desert you, but not your friend.
A friend loves. They’ve made the choice to love you, just as God made the choice to love us; He gave….
- John 3:16, NIV
- Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, By James B. Strong, S.T.D, LL.D., Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126
- Unger's Bible Dictionary, By Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, Chicago
- The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
|Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).|