"My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ,
don't show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting
with a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes
also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes
and say, "Here's a good seat for you",but say to the poor man,
"You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet,"
have you not discriminated among yourselves and
become judges with evil thoughts."
James 2:1-4—Part 1
I have been blessed by having a few friends with which I felt totally safe. They rejoiced with me when I shared good news. They cried with me when I hurt. I could share my failure with them and know they would not think less of me for failing. They showed compassion to me when I stumbled and then asked me how they could support me as I got back on track. They allowed me to be the person God created me to be instead of trying to fit me into a cultural or church mold. Each one of us needs safe people with whom we can be real. And God has called us to be safe people as well. We are going to look at five character traits of safe people. This will help us see what is needed to develop godly relationships.
First, a safe person allows a friend to be the person God created her to be. This is taken form Psalm 139:13-14: "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." A safe person recognizes each person has been wonderfully created by God and accepts her exactly the way God created her. This includes one's outward appearance. God created bodies of all sizes and shapes and safe people never encourage someone to do unhealthy things to obtain an unrealistic size. It also includes the way God created personalities. A safe friend will accept a friend’s personality type and not try to force her into being an extrovert when she is an introvert and visa versa. She will recognize her abilities and encourage her to develop them and use them. She will allow her to be all God wants her to be and won't hinder her growth whether it be physically, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually. She will encourage her to grow, think her own thoughts, and express herself with out fear of rejection. She will encourage her to enjoy the passions God put in her heart. If she loves music she will let her sing. If she loves animals, she will not think it dumb or less spiritual to spend time with them. If she loves sports, she will root for her when she plays and be interested in how her team is doing. If she loves to read, she will take an interest in what she is reading.
Secondly, a safe person accepts a friend as a part of the body of Christ. I Corinthians 12:13-31says, "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body…whether Jew or Greeks, slave or free…Now the body is not made up of one part but many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be…And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!'” God combined the members of the body so there should be acceptance and concern for each other. A safe person recognizes a friend’s unique God-given blend of personality, experiences, gifts, and passions and wants her to fulfill her unique role in the church. She will encourage her friend to stretch to find out how and where God wants to use her. She’ll allow her friend to shine in her strengths and be one of the first to affirm her when she does. She’ll also allow her friend to show her weaknesses without judging her and be willing to come along side of her when she is struggling to overcome them.
Thirdly, a safe person will allow a friend to be real with what she doesn't have. John 20:25-28: "Then he said to Thomas, "put your finger here; see my hand. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Notice that Jesus did not get angry and disown Thomas for doubting, but invited Him to examine the truth. A safe person allows a friend to wrestle with truth until it becomes her own. This is also a principal that can be taken in a physical sense. From the beginning verse in James we see we should not show partiality towards the rich, but also accept the poor. One mom shared her shock in hearing her daughter and her friends looking down on girls in PE for not buying their bras and underwear at a higher priced store. It grieved the mom that her daughter was judging someone for what she did not have. Wise Mama that she was, took away the fancier bras and bought her bras from a discount store. (To be continued...)
Prayer: Lord, you are the safest person that lived. You loved us in our sin, our pride, and our ignorance. Help us to connect with safe people who reflect your love. us allow others to be the person you created them to be. Amen.