Thursday, July 2, 2015

What Does the Bible Teach About Love and Friendship?

What is a friend?  

It can be said that a friend is a person who we feel deep love for.  Many would say that they are willing to die for their friends.  A friend can be someone we have known all our lives, or a person we just met.  Sometimes a friend is someone who has gone a separate way in life.  Even if you no longer talk to that person due to distance and life changes, you are still friends.

Jesus is the ultimate friend.  He died for you and me.  He did not come here to live a comfortable life or to gain earthly power.  He could have had those things.  Instead, he took on a humble existence, traveling from town to town, eating what others would give Him, sleeping wherever he found a place to sleep.  He stated: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58). 

What does the Bible say about Love?

“And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.”  (1. Corinthians 13:3-5).

Nothing is worth doing without love.  It is said that God is love.  “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (John 4:8).  Like God, we are to show love in all we do.  Jesus would have never died for us if He did not love us.  His crucifixion and death would have been empty without love.  Think about it, why would a man chose to be tortured and die if He did not love those who He died for?  Jesus gave everything for us because He loves us.  In order for us to be like Jesus, we are to do our best to love everyone - even those who we have fought with in the past.  I can tell you from personal experience, life is a lot better when we treat people with love, respect, and the same courtesy that Jesus showed for others.

"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:44-45)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3: 16)
What does it mean to love?  Jesus gives a good example in Luke:

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31).

The Ten Commandments are about love.  The first four are about loving the creator, God.  The last 6 are about loving our fellow man.  (Shown below are a shortened form of the 10 Commandments - for a more thorough study of the 10 commandments, see this page).  
1. I am the LORD your God. You shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall not worship idols, for I am the LORD your God.
3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor your Father and Mother
6. You shall not murder
7. You shall not commit adultery
8. You shall not steal
9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's possessions.
God gave us the commandments so that we can know how to love Him as well as each other.  While it is hard for us to always follow the commandments, and sometimes we make mistakes, Jesus, like a good friend, forgives us of our sins.  

How else can we love?  The Bible has a lot to say about loving each other:

1. Listen Without Interrupting.

"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

2. Speak Without Accusing.

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”
(James 1:19)

3. Give Without Sparing.

"He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.” (Proverbs 21:26)

4. Pray Without Ceasing.

"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;”
(Colossians 1:9)

5. Answer Without Arguing.

"Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.” (Proverbs 17:1)

6. Share Without Pretending.

"But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Ephesians 4:15)

7. Enjoy Without Complaint. 

"Do all things without murmurings and disputings:” (Philippians 2:14)

8. Trust Without Wavering.

"Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (1st Corinthians 13:7)

9. Forgive Without Punishment.

"Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Colossians 3:13)

10. Promise Without Forgetting.

"A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.” (Proverbs 13:2)

Reflect on those verses often as you go through life.  How we treat people here on earth prepares us for how we are to treat others when we are together in Heaven.  Write these verses in your heart and make them a part of your life.  Remember, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).

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