A number of years ago I remember reaching a place in a close friendship where I began to have trouble really caring for a friend. There had been much drama and difficulty. My friend seemed unable to navigate the troubled waters of her own life without pulling me into the turbulent waves. After many months of treading the tumultuous ocean of problems alongside her, a few major disagreements occurred. When the storms receded, the damage was done, and all of it combined had taken its toll on our friendship. I began to disengage emotionally. This wasn’t even a conscious choice at first, and it didn’t happen overnight, but in an effort to self-protect, I began to back away and retreat into the recesses of a cool outer shell.
I bet we can all recall those friendships, past and present, where we have needed some distance. Sometimes that distance is created by life’s everyday tasks, demands, and circumstances. Other times we create it without even consciously realizing or acknowledging our own motives for doing so. Occasionally, we may purposely choose to embrace distance because we feel that it is the healthiest option for one or both of us in the relationship.
Recently I was reading the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, and I was struck by these verses in Chapter 2:20-21 "I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ."
Like Paul acknowledges, this ability to genuinely care for those around us is incredibly rare. As humans, we are flawed and imperfect. Our lives are far from idyllic and can be quite messy. There are times when the most caring thing we can do for someone we love is to give them distance. On other occasions we need to confront damaging behaviors or set healthy boundaries.
This ability to love selflessly, persistently, and genuinely is valuable. It matters to Jesus, and it should matter to us, but I believe it must ultimately come from a source other than ourselves. Paul tells us in 3:16-19 of his letter to the Ephesians where we can find it:
"I pray that from his [God, the Father’s] glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."
I am so thankful that, as believers, we have access to GOD’S ABILITY to love those around us. We can tap into HIS resources and receive power through HIS Spirit. Only then can we demonstrate Timothy’s amazing gift for genuine care and concern.
Think About: Is there anyone whom you are having a hard time loving in this season of life? Would you consider asking God to empower you with His supernatural resources for loving this person?
Pray: Father God, I acknowledge my own limitations in loving others. Give me the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep your love is. May I love others with the love I experience from you, for your resources are glorious and unlimited.
Jennifer Greene is passionate about inspiring and empowering believers through the study and application of God's Word. She and her husband Jordan have two daughters and have been members of The River since 2012. One of the many hats she currently wears is that of Discipleship & Assimilation Intern here at the River. You can find out more about her at www.jennifergreene.org.