Although I’ve mentioned When Words Matter Most here on the blog before, it is worth mentioning again. As you can tell by the title, this book is about speaking gracious and kind words to other people. In a way this is a resource to help Christians speak the truth in love to other people in various walks of life. Although it’s written by women for women, this book can for sure teach men some lessons as well. Here’s the section I re-read this morning. It has to do with the conduct of a gracious friend.
A Gracious Friend Listens. …A gracious friend warmly welcomes you into her life and gently steps into yours. One of the most significant ways she does this is by listening intently. She seeks to truly know you, doesn’t interrupt or get distracted, and never makes you feel rushed or foolish. She’s genuinely interested in hearing you, and when you spend time with her, you know you’re loved. If there’s one thing we want to encourage you about listening well, it’s this: listen to gain understanding. You can’t give appropriate truth to a loved one without first knowing what she’s really going through. The encouragement and advice you give needs to match her concerns, and that requires your patience. Take time to listen instead of making assumptions or quickly offering solutions (Prov. 18:13)….
A Gracious Friend Forgives. Have you ever left a conversation thinking you might have said something that could be misinterpreted? You keep replaying a foolish remark, and awkward attempt at humor, or some friendly teasing that now seems insensitive. …Afterward, you feel convicted and genuinely sorry. You confess your sin to the Lord, but you know you must go make things right with the other person. And yet you wonder, ‘Will she forgive me?” Every day we encounter opportunities for misunderstanding and offense. Those around us can’t help but be affected by all the prickly edges of our personality, words, and actions, and we can’t help but be affected by theirs also. But a gracious friend has learned how to overlook offenses (Prov. 19:11). She’s more committed to extending grace than holding a grudge….
A Gracious Friend Serves. …One of the reasons God redeemed you is so that you would serve others. Peter wrote, ‘You were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:13-14). …How can you be a faithful friend who serves? Remember how Christ served you, and you’ll be motivated to serve like him [cf. Mk. 10:45]….
The above three paragraphs are summaries of a slightly longer discussion at the end of chapter four in When Words Matter Most by Cheryl Marshall and Caroline Newheiser.
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54105