There have been many renowned relationships - both real and fictional - throughout human history. Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee shared adventures in Middle Earth. Sherlock Holmes and John Watson solved crimes together. American suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton fought for our right to vote. Lucy and Ethel made us laugh until it hurt.
There are beautiful examples of friendship in the Bible, as well. In 1 Samuel 18:1 (ESV), we read that “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David.” Despite King Saul’s jealousy, Saul’s son Jonathan and the future King David became fast and enduring friends. In the book of Ruth, we read about Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi. The apostle Paul writes with fatherly tenderness to a young Timothy.
Yet relationships - whether friendships, marriages, or familial relationships - don’t always go smoothly. The destructive and violent feud between the Hatfields and McCoys lasted a decade. Aaron Burr’s smoldering jealousy of Alexander Hamilton lead to a duel that took Hamilton’s life.
Think about your life. Can you name people with whom you’ve had meaningful and lasting relationships? Have you ever offended or neglected a friend or family member? Were you able to repair the relationship or was it irreparably damaged?
It certainly hurts when our earthly relationships go awry, but remember, we once faced an even worse situation. Because of sin, we were not simply estranged from God, our Creator, we were his enemies.
Our perfect heavenly Father hates sin. And, that’s precisely why we need Jesus:
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us (1 John 4:10–12 ESV).
God, in his mercy, remedied our sinful condition. In love, Jesus took our sin upon himself in order to restore our relationship with God. That is love! In and of ourselves, we cannot love God, nor can we love one another. Our sweetest friendships are so only because God first loved us. Our precious quiet time with God and our worship of the Creator are possible only because he loved us first, reached out to us first.
Jesus lived, died, and rose again to forgive us for all we do to break earthly relationships. He died for all the times we gossip, slander, argue, or lose our temper. He died for all the times we snipe, gripe, disparage, and condescend.
Along with the gift of a restored relationship with God in Jesus, we also have received the Spirit-given ability to love one another - our friends, our spouse, our children, our family, our co-workers, our caregivers, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and even our enemies.
We enjoy relationships sprinkled with grace and forgiveness! All because of Jesus, who restored us to the Father and restores us to one another.
Editor’s note: Today’s devotion is slightly adapted from CTA’s women’s retreat Living the Sweet Life. CTA offers a leader’s planning guide, a participant’s workbook, and several Christian giveaways for retreat participants.
You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2018 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.