A friend loves at all times…
Have you ever been slammed by a good friend? These types of insults typically hurt more than your average stab in the back. As a child I had a bad case of the “Dumbo” ears. It wasn’t my fault though… they just grew a little faster than the rest of my head. It was hard for a while, but eventually I got used to the comments and developed my own little defense mechanism through the use of humor. This worked well into the ninth grade when my head finally caught up with the elephant ears. The funny thing about all those insults is that I don’t really remember the specifics of most of them. In fact, the only one that remains vivid is the time I overheard my best friend joking about them… He called me Fievel… you know, that mouse that “goes west“. Whatever! “I didn’t care what he thought anyway.” Truthfully though, it never really seemed like our friendship was the same after that. In fact, a couple years back I ran into him after not talking for some time. This incident was the first thing that came to my mind. I guess you could say I never really let it go.
For years it was stories such as this one that came to my mind upon hearing, “A friend loves at all times.” I would get so mad, disappointed, and hurt at the same time. How could this person consider himself to be my friend and continue to talk about me behind my back? Have you ever had such an experience? I’m sure you can relate to some extent. In my observations, this happens more often than it should.
What would happen, though, if we were to put ourselves in the role of “friend”? I’m not talking about simply loving all those you know either. I’m talking about remembering that you are a friend to the person who stabs you in the back. I’m talking about continuing the duties of friendship even after your best friend has stopped. At first this may seem like an unwarranted approach to the situation. If we look at scripture, however, I believe this is exactly what it teaches. Jesus Christ is our ultimate example. He gave His life up for the sake of ours. Here was the creator of the universe humbled in human form. He loved the world so much that He died a gruesome death in order for us to spend eternity with God the Father. Talk about the worst-case scenario for friends turning their backs on you. Christ was crucified by the same crowd that had previously hailed Him as Lord (John 12:12, 13). I have to imagine it was this truth that led Jesus to say in John 15:12, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you.”
I have often wondered how things might have been different between my friend and me if I had forgiven him like a true friend should. Unfortunately I played the role of a victim. I led my pride take precedence over my love. Looking back, I realize that I was just as guilty of not loving at all times as my friend was. Here’s the catch though: When all is said and done, God is not going to ask me if my friends loved at all times… He’s going to ask if I loved at all times. What will your answer be?