It seems unfair. Impossible really. 19 directives from God about being a friend. Packed into 8 verses from the book of Romans, chapter 12, verses 9-16. And we’ve violated them all. We’re not the kind of friends we hoped we could be, or that God wants us to be.
But nothing is impossible with God. If we cannot be the kind of friends God wants us to be then Jesus wouldn’t have issued the command to love one another.
You can love God’s way instead of sin’s way. “We love,” the Bible says, “because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God took our natural way of loving, a way that seeks our selfish desires first, a way that has hurt people and used people and ignored people—God took what we have done and what we have left undone and punished it all in his Son Jesus. Our true friend forever.
Jesus has perfectly loved us, and knowing that love has saved us, he now calls on us to love others. Now God can hand us a list of 19 directives and believe that we can keep 19. You can be a better friend because, first, Jesus is your perfect friend. You can love others better because, first, Jesus perfectly loves you.
Never fickle, always faithful, Jesus loves you with a sincere love. Who needs your love to be more sincere—to be a tough love, or take time off, or set healthy boundaries, or refuse to support unhealthy choices?
Jesus chases temptation from bullying you into evil and provides you opportunities to do what is right. What group of friends needs your help to avoid evil and pursue good?
Jesus gave special attention to the underprivileged and honored the requests of thieves and prostitutes. Who would be more blessed and confident as a person if you were to give special attention to him or show her more honor than she’d ever believe she deserves?
Jesus’ zeal pulled him away from the ninety-nine sheep to rescue the one who was straying. Who needs your zeal be personal enough to step away from the laptop that sends a flowery poem to everyone in your contacts, and to be personal, to look him in the eye and or to help her find her way?
Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them,” for his enemies. Who has hurt you, someone who you can pray for and forgive?
Jesus welcomed strangers and sometimes shared his greatest gifts with them. Who is estranged from the faith, needing your gifts?
Jesus wept with Mary and Martha. Who needs your companionship in a time of grief?
Wow. Being a friend is a great responsibility. But Jesus is greater, and Jesus has fulfilled it all once when he fulfilled every one of these 19 directives for you. Today, believe in him and let him fulfill them all again through you.
PRAYER: Being a good friend is hard work, Jesus. I’ve messed it up often. You have never messed up being my friend, though. Thank you for your perfect, loyal and generous friendship. I want to be a friend like that to others. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Read Romans 12:9-16. Which of these might you have opportunity to do today?