3/9/06

Encouragement for Today

(Principle #6)

 

“Friendship: The Love Training Ground”

Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor – “P31 Woman Magazine,” Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

 

Key Verse:

Galatians 5:6b, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (NIV)

 

Devotion:

Love is mentioned more times in the Bible than almost any other verb.  It’s mentioned more than believe, faith, forgive, obey, praise or rejoice. 

 

Believers are admonished to love God above all and love each other.  We are also given instructions on what, who and how to love.  We are to love truth, peace and mercy.  We are to love the family of believers, neighbors, sinners and enemies.  We are to love sincerely, humbly and deeply.  Our love for each other is to be sacrificial, putting others’ needs above our own.

 

When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment, He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor as your self. There is no greater commandment.” (Mark 12:30-31 NIV)

 

It’s critical to note that Jesus wasn’t asked about the second greatest commandment, but He included it because loving each other should be inseparable from loving God.  Also, when Jesus ends His comments, He refers to the first and second commandments as one. 

 

Why the focus on love?  Second Corinthians 3:18 sheds some light on this question:  “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (NIV).  In other words, we are in a sort of “Jesus boot camp” here on earth.  In order to be transformed into His likeness, we’ve got to learn to love like Jesus.  The only way to learn to love others is to be in relationships with them.

 

I can be a lot like Jesus when I’m home alone.  I’m patient, loving and kind… by myself.  But put me in a group of people who don’t think or act like me, and the truth is revealed. 

 

As challenging, as painful and as time consuming as friendships can be, they are worth pursuing at every stage and season of a woman’s life.  It is in these deeper relationships that we practice loving like Jesus.

 

When I consider friendships as a training ground for my character, and an area to actively obey God’s command to love, they take on a whole new meaning.  While I still like the idea of going shopping with a friend, I’ll pay much more attention to how I can love her like Jesus, than the bargains.

 

My Prayer for Today:

Heavenly Father, I worship and praise You. Thank You for caring about my need for companionship and my character by giving me friends.  Help me see my friendships as opportunities to love more like Jesus.  I long to be transformed more in His likeness.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Application Steps:

Identify one friendship you wish was closer.  List two ways you can show the love of Jesus to that friend this week.

 

Reflection Points:

Read 1 Corinthians 3:18.  What are some ways we can reflect the Lord’s glory?

 

List some reason why developing deep friendships is a challenge for you.

 

In addition to practicing love, what are other character-building benefits of friendship?

 

Read Romans 12:10.  Can we fulfill this admonition in our own strength?  What will it take?

 

List some practical ways you can show love to your friends this week.

 

Power Verses:

Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV)

 

1 Peter 1:22, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” (NIV)

 

John 15:12, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (NIV)

 

Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (NIV)

 

Additional Resources:

Sandpaper People, by Mary Southerland

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_sandpaperPeople.htm

 

Traveling Together, by Karla Worley

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_travelingTogether.htm

 

P31 Woman Magazine

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/subscription.htm