Sometimes, my friends help me experience joy and fulfillment; other times, they lead me to experience the opposite of joy and fulfillment. When connecting with friends who bring frustration and despair into our relationship, my patience often wears thin, my ability to listen diminishes and my sense of empathy washes away.
In these moments, I struggle to love my neighbor and his baggage. Sure, I may enjoy spending time with him, but as soon as he discusses his latest fight with his wife, I check out. And while I may love grabbing a bite to eat with him, I make sure to steer the conversation away from his financial struggles; once he starts talking, there’s no turning back. I like my friend through his peaks, but sometimes abandon him through his valleys.
As I contemplate this mindset, I can’t help but wonder how Jesus would treat these friends. Would he practice “selective listening”? Or would he patiently walk alongside his struggling peers, working to provide encouragement and hope? In John 13:34, Jesus says: “And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (GNTD).
As I encounter these difficult relationships, I want to love with God’s love. I want to journey with these people as they grapple with the twists and turns of everyday life. And I want to step away from my prideful, “what have you done for me lately” attitude, humbling myself before my distraught, discouraged friends—even when my patience wears thin.
If you’re struggling to love a hard-to-love friend today, turn to God’s Word for guidance. These four prayers will get you started:
- Lord, help me approach my friendships with humility.
Don't do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. And look out for one another's interests, not just for your own.– Philippians 2:3-4 (GNTD)
- Lord, help me carry my friends’ burdens.
Help carry one another's burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ. If you think you are something when you really are nothing, you are only deceiving yourself.– Galatians 6:2-3 (GNTD)
- Lord, help me love others because you first loved me.
This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven.– 1 John 4:10 (GNTD)
- Lord, help me love my neighbor as I love myself.
The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.– Matthew 22:39 (GNTD)
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