Formations lesson for March 20: Living like Jesus : Friday, Feb. 25, 2005
February 25 2005 by Jeffrey Wisdom

Formations lesson for March 20: Living like Jesus : Friday, Feb. 25, 2005
Friday, Feb. 25, 2005

Formations lesson for March 20: Living like Jesus

By Jeffrey Wisdom
Focal passage: Ephesians 4:25-5:2

One of the strongest relationships the gospel provides is that of brother and sister. Through Christ, individuals become a part of a larger family. "For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, is My brother, sister and mother" (Matt. 12:50 NIV). A brother or a sister is a description of the intimacy that Christ's life and death affords us. Individually we are siblings. Together we are the family of God and the Church of Jesus.

Though Christians often refer to themselves as brothers or sisters, sometimes the relationship that lies beneath the title is forgotten. Like any relationship of merit, friendship must be established before intimacy can be claimed. Friendship is the foundation Jesus uses to support the relationships embedded in the family of God. "You are My friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father, I have made known to you" (John. 15:14-15 NIV).

With friendship being so important, why is it so difficult to master? For one, friendships require so much of us.

Henri Nouwen said, "When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in a hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend, that is a friend who cares."

Christ-like friendship

Eph. 4:25-27

Friendship requires Christ-likeness. That alone is enough to make most friend-wannabes quit. It is easier to be unforgiving than it is to work through a friendship: especially if that friendship has a history. Friendships do not ask you to ignore the dynamics that they create; they simply ask that you do not let those dynamics get in the way. "Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold."

Graceful friendship

Eph. 4:28, 31-32

Second, friendships are difficult to master because they need to be fundamentally rooted in grace (4:28, 31-32). "Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him toil, working what is honest with [his] hands, that he may have to distribute to him that has need" (v. 28 Darby Translation). Verse 28 allows wrongs to be corrected. It implies that persons wronged in the relationship be willing to forgive. Without the capacity for forgiveness, no relationship will survive.

Friendship will always be tested by the tendency to blame someone for something and a need for forgiveness. "You who pretend to be someone you are not, first take the big piece of wood out of your own eye. Then you can see better to take the small piece of wood out of your brother's eye" (Matt. 7:5 New Life Version).

Encouraging friendship

Eph. 4:29

Another aspect of friendship difficult to master is encouragement. George Matthews Adams wrote, "There is no such thing as a 'self-made' man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and our thoughts, as well as our success."

Encouragement is a thousand little things and differs from one person to another. Whatever encouragement is, it is a well-spoken word, or it is a well-done deed, that brings out the best in someone else. "[Do not] use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them" (Eph. 4:29 New Living Translation).

When you fail to master the traits of friendship - Christ-likeness, grace and forgiveness, and encouragement - you fail the Master. "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (v. 30 NIV). Whether you call someone your brother or sister as a Christian, if you are not first his or her friend, then you are neither friend nor family.

2/25/2005 12:00:00 AM by Jeffrey Wisdom | with 0 comments

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