It’s that time of year when we look back over the last 360 or so days and evaluate highs and lows. On New Year’s, the reflection is capped off with the singing of Auld Lang Syne, the centuries old Scottish tune about old friends. Remembering the gift of old friends is a sweet tradition.
I have been blessed to meet people I adore everywhere I’ve ever lived, which has included five different states. I loved my high school friends immensely. My closest college friends understood that although I spent a great deal of time gazing into the mesmerizing baby blues of Will Jackson, I really did love them too. I’ve made sweet friends in Bible studies, small groups, on the sidelines of every sport imaginable, volunteering at the boys’ schools, and in the most random ways. What a gift it is to feel known and loved. A good laugh with a dear friend is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
But here’s the thing, how many friends do you have that speak the truth in love to you? Do you have friends who challenge you to be better? For example, which makes you feel more loved: (1) universal affirmation, no matter what; or (2) a gentle word of course correction? Honestly, despite the cultural prevalence of the first, its not only not love, it’s flattery — an effective snare of Satan. Meanwhile the second is deeply loving. Yet somehow the inane message of our time has largely prevailed: Love is defined as tolerance and affirmation.
In contrast, I came across this perfect quote from Robert Murray McCheyne: “A man who loves you the most is the man who tells you the most truth about yourself.” Brilliant! There’s really no expounding upon it. I just hope you have such a friend and that you are such a friend. McCheyne was a Scottish preacher from the 19th Century, and surely would have known Auld Lang Syne. Did he remember those loving, truth-telling friends when he sang it? I don’t know. But from now on, I will.
I can hardly fathom how much our world would change if 2019 were characterized not by empty flattery, but telling each other the truth.
Sometimes I picture Jesus just hanging out with me. If I find myself laying on a lounge chair somewhere by myself, I imagine Him just chilling beside me. I know He loves me no matter what I do. There’s nothing I can ever do to make Him love me more or less. But that does not mean Jesus would ever sit idly by while I make poor choices. No, He would say, “Beloved, you don’t want to do that. That’s not who you are.” He loves me unconditionally, but He doesn’t passively sit by and watch me self-destruct. He’s my friend! In fact, He’s my best friend and just like the McCheyne quote, He tells me the most truth about myself. But sometimes He speaks in a still small voice and I must be still and listen hard.
Praying today that Jesus is your best friend too, and that as we try to love those around us well, we will use His perfect friendship as the model.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV
P.S. It’s our 23rd anniversary tomorrow and I’m grateful for a million things about Will, including his willingness to tell me the truth about myself.