July 22, 2013
The Cost of Friendship
But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her (Ruth 1:16-18, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Friendship is the catalyst for every other love and the foundation of every healthy relationship. God created us to need each other. We need friends and we need to be a friend.
The emotional demands on women are vast. One of the ways God replenishes the emotional drains we experience is through friendships. Many women are convinced that the risk of having close friends outweighs the rewards. I disagree. There is no love without risk. Every friendship must contain the element of risk if it is to grow and mature, reaching its full potential.
Ruth was willing to risk her very future for the sake of her friendship with Naomi. John 15:13 says it well: “Greater love has no one than this; that one lay down his life for his friends.” When we choose to lay down our lives in friendship, we automatically take a chance on being hurt, rejected, betrayed or misunderstood.
Anyone who knows me also knows that living foliage is doomed to die a premature death if left in my care for any length of time. I have even been known to kill a plant without touching it. In fact, the only hope any plant of mine has to live past its purchase date is for me to ignore its existence and pray for rain. I am certain you can understand why I am in awe of anyone who gardens and is actually capable of growing green things.
I once had a neighbor who was known for her green thumb. In fact, everyone in our small Mississippi town knew that the most beautiful roses were found in Joyce’s back yard. It was in that same yard where I learned an important lesson about friendship.
Every afternoon, after taking their naps, I took our two children, Jered and Danna, outside to play in our fenced-in back yard. While the kids enjoyed the fresh air, neighborhood friends, and their swing set, I enjoyed visiting with Joyce. Most of our conversations took place over the vine-covered fence and her dazzling rose garden.
After weeks of watching Joyce plant, prune, water, feed, talk and even sing to her “Rose Babies,” I noticed she never handled the roses without wearing thick gloves to protect her hands from thorns. One day, our conversation abruptly halted when she yanked her hand into the air and yelled, “Ouch!” The culprit was a thorn. When I asked why she insisted on growing roses instead of some safer and less prickly foliage, her answer was profound. “The beauty of the roses is worth the occasional wound they inflict,” she replied. Joyce had learned to handle the roses with respect and in such a way that her wounds were few. Friendships are much the same.
Friends will hurt you. Friends will wound you. We would be wise to don thick emotional gloves when it comes to handling friendships.
It is a disastrous mistake to assign the responsibility for our happiness to friends. The truth is that depending on a friend to make us happy sets that friend up for failure in the relationship and positions that friendship for inevitable destruction.
I have a friend who simply cannot keep a secret. She would do anything in the world for me – except keep her mouth closed. Because I love her and don’t want to write her off as a friend, I have simply chosen to be cautious about what I share with her. Every friendship has a price tag of some kind attached. We just need to get to the place where love covers the cost.
The words of 1 Peter 4:8 say it well, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” In this verse, “cover” literally means to “hide” or “overlook” the faults. Friendship knows the weaknesses are there, but chooses to love anyway. Friendship is always costly but it is always well worth the cost.
Father, You are the most faithful and most precious friend I will ever have. Teach me how to develop friendships that reflect your unconditional love and continual forgiveness. In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
- What is the greatest hindrance to friendship in your life?
- What has been the greatest reward of friendship in your life?
- Are you willing to take the risk of cultivating intimate friendships and of being a true friend? Explain.
- Make a list of your closest friends and then picture life without them. What would that picture look like?
- Make a specific plan this week to invest time in the life of a friend.
More From The Girlfriends
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