What do you consider the greatest of all your blessings? Surely at the top of the list would be a personal relationship with Jesus and (hopefully!) your family.
But according to French author, Francois de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680):
(“A true friend is the greatest of blessings.”)
Some time ago, a group of people decided that friends were such a blessed part of life, they wanted a day set aside specifically to celebrate these relationships. In 1935, Congress proclaimed National Friendship Day. The observation occurs on the first Sunday of August. That’s this Sunday, the seventh.
Friends do fill our lives with delightful blessings: the beauty of companionship, the joy of sharing experiences and like interests, the warmth of heart-to-heart communication, and the grace of acceptance in spite of faults.
Those friends who share our faith in Jesus provide even more benefits.
They push us nearer to God by their example, their encouragement, and their prayers for us. When trouble assaults, they remind us of scriptural truth, God’s attributes, and his provision in the past.
Christian friends are “Jesus with skin on.” (That phrase in quotes comes from a pastor in our past who used it frequently.) Isn’t that a delightful way to describe our ministry to one another? His Spirit works through us providing the encouragement, help, and care we all need.
I also appreciate a Native American translation of the word, friend: “the one who carries my sorrows on his back.” That’s a true friend—the one who comes alongside to empathize, assist, and pray.
My heart is warmed as I remember such friends (and family members who were and are like friends), each of whom have played various roles in my life: companion, listener, encourager, advisor, confidence-builder, mentor, role model of behavior, wisdom-bestower, heartache-easer, prayer warrior. These special people have contributed invaluably to my life story and who I am.
Some of my dear friends (including those with family ties) are reading these words right now. And “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:6), not just on Friendship Day.
You are the charming gardeners who have made my soul blossom (Marcel Proust). I am so very grateful for the abundant happiness and joy you all have brought into my life.
But these friendships of faith would not be possible without our most precious Friend of all: Jesus (John 15:15).
Because of his love poured out in our hearts, we can love each other.
Because he is our refuge, joy, and hope, we can offer the same.
As we allow his influence to transform us, we are able to reflect that same influence into the lives of our friends. His attributes such as wisdom, understanding, patience, kindness, and goodness, become part of our responses with others.
Best of all, because of our friendship with Jesus, our human “friendships begun in this world will be taken up again, never to be broken off” (Francis de Sales).
How glorious is that?!
(Art & photo credits: www.dgreetings.com; http://www.quotesgram.com; http://www.ladycarehealth.com; http://www.brainyquote.com; http://www.bible.knowing-jesus.com; http://www.biblegodquotes.com.)