I have been talking a lot about attitudes lately-fresh attitudes that bring new energy and depth to our lives. Here is a verse that shows me a fresh way of approaching my relationships this year.
"For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus" Phil. 1:8
I want everything in my relationships with my friends to reflect what Paul says in this verse. When I'm thinking about others, I don't want to be critical, judge them, and tear them down in my thoughts. I want to think of them and long for them with the love of Jesus. When I pray for them, I want to pray with the affection of Christ. When I spend time with them, I want to show Christ's affection for them.
When you read Paul’s letters, you can see the priority that he placed on his relationships. He valued them greatly and he built them over years and through the ups and downs. He longed for his friends when he was separated by miles or circumstance. I wonder if in today’s culture, Paul would be distracted by all of the current “entertainment allure” and devalue his relationships. Would he be able to keep his friendship focus? I confess that in the midst of daily pressures and temptations, my desire to love others with Christ's affection often wanes. I have often allowed my affections to be turned toward selfish interests instead of really loving like Jesus did.
In the coming year I see myself choosing a better attitude. I want to take the initiative to stay in touch, even when others sometimes fail to do so with me. I want to ask friends what issues they are struggling with, and listen carefully as they respond. I’ll share my struggles with them and tell them how God is at work in the midst of them. I want to take off my own masks and be transparent and encourage others to do the same. If possible, I would like to feel as strongly about them as Christ does. I also want to pray for my friends more. To me this is the attitude of a good friend. It seems like the attitude that Jesus had as I read about his life in the Bible.
Have you thought much lately about how good a friend you are? Are you giving your best effort in your relationships? Are you allowing Jesus more influence in your heart? Can people sense more of Him coming through as you interact with them? I want to encourage you to make loving others with the affection of Jesus a top priority in ’06. Sit with God for a few moments even now and ask him to give you this incredible heart for your family, friends, and co-workers. May your heart come alive for others today and may you have this attitude in you which was also in Christ Jesus. May you be a great friend this year!