Monday, December 14, 2015


I don't know who said this first, but I was told at an early age, "If you want to have a friend, you must be a friend." Undoubtedly, you were given the same little adage, as well. For goodness sakes, I've even heard myself spouting it a time or two. We all like pithy statements, but there's nothing pithy about the work involved in being a friend, especially a biblical one.

Three building blocks of friendship have already been identified. Trying to be clever, and perhaps, a bit memorable, I've given them three "C" words. Good friends (if-the-Lord's-the-Lord-of-them friends) will be committed, cautious, and curative. So, in an attempt to keep up with this theme, I've picked a Greek word for the final, and fourth building block. The word is "charis (English transliteration)" and means "grace." The kind of friends who "stick closer than a brother," "love at all times," "know when to speak and to be silent," and offer us "friendly wounds," are also "grace-remembering-givers." They are CHARIS.

Paul David Tripp (one of my new favorite authors), in his devotional New Morning Mercies (which I highly recommend by the way!), said this: "Maybe one of the biggest sins in our relationships with one another is the sin of forgetting. I wish I could say this is not my problem, but it is. It is so easy to forget how profound your need of grace is, and it is equally easy to forget the amazing grace that has been freely showered upon you. And when you forget the grace that you've been given, it becomes very easy to respond to the people around you with non-grace." In other words, our greatest hindrance in building quality relationships is that we are grace amnesiacs. We are! I am!

From time to time I tend to think I'm deserving, that I've earned, or achieved, the spiritual blessings that have been lavished on me. When I get myself out from under the shadow of the cross, that's when my amnesia hits me the hardest. It's absolutely critical I stay there! Because remembering that grace came at such a huge price keeps me grounded and grateful. Remembering my great need and the ONE who "delivered me from the domain of darkness and transformed me into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins," is essential to "putting them all away: anger, malice, slander..." and "putting on the new self...holy and beloved, compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, bearing with one another, forgiving one another..." These are the things that comprise charis...grace-remembering-givers.  

I'll close with one more quote from Tripp's devotional. It's worth the pondering, even if you've read nothing else. It is the bottom line of this essential building block:

For the believer, harsh, critical, impatient, and irritated responses to others are always connected to forgetting or denying who we are and what we have been given in Jesus.

Think on that this week...and stay grounded in the shadow of the cross. It might just change all your relationships...

**Words in red are from: Colossians 1:13, 2:13-14, 3:5-14a.

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