With Friends Like These . . .

My brothers show no partiality
as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ—James 2:1

We men tend toward bias. Sometimes with forethought, many times with no thought, we give or withhold based upon characteristics of the potential recipients. We can, therefore, find ourselves directing all our time and attention, our kindness and generosity, toward only those who live, look, sound, spend, sin . . . like we do. This plays out in many areas of life and, therefore, many areas of faith—in service, giving, worship, and indeed in brotherhood.

But James, brother of our King, Jesus Christ, cautioned us to oppose this tendency:

“For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there,’ or, ‘Sit down at my feet,’ have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:2-4).

So, what’s wrong with partiality? Well, intending to or not, we harm people. We hurt them by disregarding them, those whom God wants us to impact or serve or befriend, but who don’t quite make our cut (Proverbs 28:21). God put us here for one another (Matthew 22:39). Partiality means we forsake people who need us. And if that’s not bad enough, we harm ourselves. We cut ourselves off from relationships—and often the weightiest. You see, those were meant to impact are expected to influence us, right back.

Okay, so what do we do?

How’re you doing with this, brother? The test is simple—look around. Who are you spending time with? Whom are you serving? There should be people in your life who’re nothing like you. Are there?

The Friend Everyone Longs For

Devotional

The Friend Everyone Longs For

We all have a mental picture of the kind of friends we want to have in our lives. We want friends who will be supportive. Who will stick with us when life is tough. Who will encourage us and not tear us down. Who will not judge us. But today we’re going to flip this around. We are going to consider how we can become the kind of friend for others that we want to have.

Life always begins with becoming rather than finding. Dating is not about finding the right person for your life. Marriage is not about finding the perfect man or woman. No, it’s about becoming the person God wants you to be. In this way, whether you do date and get married… or you don’t… you still win, because you are becoming the person that God wants you to be.

So, with this in mind, we need to look at what it takes to be the kind of friend we want to have in our lives. First, we need to be a friend who is sincere and not phony. A friend with no hidden agendas. A friend who isn’t hypocritical or two-faced. A friend who doesn’t just tell others what they want to hear but speaks the truth.

Second, we need to be a friend who extinguishes evil and celebrates good. We do this by de-escalting conflict insteading of fanning the flames of conflict. We speak the truth as we extend mercy and forgiveness, just like Jesus did for us. While we do not turn a blind eye to the truth, we assume the best of people and are ready to humbly work to restore relationships without thought of personal gain.

Third, we need to be a friend who is open-handed with our resources. We share and actively meet needs.

Fourth, we need to be a friend who rises above the situation. We don’t have to show up to every fight in which we are invited to participate. We can choose to politely withdraw from conflict. To do the unexpected by blessing those who curse us. There is freedom in not having to get even. As we follow God’s purpose and leave it to him to deal with those who curse us, we honor the size of our God and trust he will take care of everything in the very best way.

Fifth, we need to be a friend who moves freely among all people. We all want the friend who says, “I can float with the up-and-ups and the down-and-outs. I can float with the high-and-mighty and be just as happy with those in lower states.” A true friend is there in all circumstances, whether we are at the top or the bottom. The gospel doesn’t treat people differently, and neither should we.

Sixth, we need to be a friend who is a peacemaker. We need to recognize that while we don’t have the power to change others, we can change ourselves. We may not be able to have peace with another person in our lives, but we can have peace toward that person. And if we are at peace with that person, then we are reflecting the gospel. We are living free.

So, today try to be the friend you want to have. By doing so, you will find friends who will recognize the power of the gospel in your life and be drawn closer to God.

Respond

How would you describe the bulk of the friendships that you have had? What do you look for in a friend?

What is the difference between finding a friend and being a friend? What do you find is the most challenging part about being a friend?

If God could do one thing in your life to empower you to “live at peace with everyone,” what would you want it to be?