Forget social networking–how many real friends do you have?
The best and most perfect example of a friend is Jesus. He was a Real Friend to His disciples, and is a Real Friend to us (in addition to being our Creator, King, Redeemer, Savior, Lord, and Master, and one day our Judge). He is the perfect friend in every way. The fact that He was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15) proves His ability to identify with us when we face various trials and temptations, yet He never sinned in the process. Jesus loves us with a perfect love, fulfilled the Law, sacrificed His life to redeem us, and communicated honestly with His disciples and all those around Him. On top of all this, He was servant to His friends. Are you a servant to your friends, or do you expect them to serve you? Are your friends servants, or are they selfish and care only about themselves and what they want?
Real Friends Serve Because of Love
There is a reason why the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). God is worthy of our love and worthy of our being a servant to Him and demonstrating that love because of Who He is, because of what He has done, and because of what He will do in the future.
The second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). This commandment is not a command to love yourself, but to love your neighbor ‘as yourself’ (as you would be concerned for yourself about food, clothing, shelter, getting help in time of suffering or hurting). We are to do the same for our ‘neighbors’ (including the people next door to your house, those close to you as a person, and your friends). Do you really love your friends? When is the last time you did something to demonstrate that love? When did you do an act of service for them? Jesus washed the dirty feet of His friends (John 13). When’s the last time you washed your friends’ dirty feet? You might say, “But their feet stink!” You’re probably right, but so do yours, and so do mine. But we still thank the Lord when our friends, or someone else, is a servant to us!
Real Friends Are Willing to Sacrifice
It was Jesus who said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus did more than ‘wash’ our dirty feet when He died on the cross for us. Washing dirty feet is one act of being a servant, but the ultimate act would be the sacrifice of your life for your friend. The Cross is the ultimate act of sacrifice and the ultimate act of service. .
I want to ask you to go to the foot of the cross for a moment and look up at Jesus suffering, bleeding, and dying for you. Remember Paul’s words to the church at Corinth, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). That’s referring to the ultimate friend, Jesus. It’s not likely that you are willing to die for your friends if you’re not willing to do some of the more simple things in life for them – like being a servant. Before Jesus died, He fed them, lived life together with them on a day-to-day basis, and He washed their feet. But then, He paid the ultimate price – He gave His life for them.
Who are you willing to die for? Who is willing to die for you? How far are you willing to go for your friends?
Real Friends Think Right
Think about the impact Philippians 2:3-7 can and should have on your friendship with others: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
Next Week: Real Friends Are Faithful