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“For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14, New King James Version).

My friend trusted me with her secret. Because of a family emergency, she left town suddenly. In her rush, she needed someone to pack her apartment so her things could be shipped. She had already enlisted a male friend to help with the furniture, but my job was different. I was to box up her closet and more specifically—her shoes. Her many, many pairs of shoes. Some still lay in the original boxes, never worn. A female friend (especially one who also liked shoes) would understand this mad passion and not reveal just how many boxes were in that closet.

Another friend admitted to hiding new clothes in the back of her closet, tags still dangling. Her rationale was if she let them hang there for a month or two or three, she could truthfully tell her husband she’d “owned” that outfit for quite a while. (Definitely a bit of subterfuge on this one.) If you’re smiling as you read this, you may just love pretty shoes and clothes too.

Both friends told me their secrets because they knew I wouldn’t judge them harshly for their weaknesses. They didn’t need to feel embarrassed to tell me about their shopping obsession. It’s so good when friends understand us and love us. It doesn’t mean we are perfect. Far from it. But they love us and offer us mercy. The same is true with the Lord. As our Creator, He understands our human frailties. He can empathize because He wrapped Himself in flesh and came to earth as one of us. He lived as we live, felt the same emotions, and endured the same temptations we face.

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16-16, New Living Translation).

When we fail, and we will, we don’t need to fear. We can come boldly to the throne of God and receive His mercy. He remembers we are made of dust. He forgives and restores.

Prayer: Thank You so much, Lord, that I can come to You in my time of need. You also walked this earth and understand my weaknesses. I can come to You without fear, seeking Your forgiveness and Your strength. You will help me overcome.

“The righteous person is cautious in his friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26, New English Translation).

I just watched my friend walk to her car and head toward home. Last night I hugged another friend goodbye before she left town. The three of us had just enjoyed girlfriend time together. It took a lot of talking to catch up on life since we live hundreds of miles apart. Distance, crazy schedules, and just living life keeps us from getting together often. Sometimes years pass before we realize it.

Some friends are in our lives for a season, but others remain in our lives and hearts forever. No matter how long it’s been, when we get together, we pick up where we left off. It’s seamless and wonderful.

Do you ever thank God for your friends? I do. Sometimes it just a quick prayer to thank Him for all the wonderful people He’s place in my life. Other times I name them, remembering how much they’ve added to my life. Sometimes I just feel surprised that God filled my life with so many amazing people. True friends are a blessing.

Friends love us.

Proverbs 17:17 says, A friend loves at all times” (NKJV). Good times and bad times. Times when we’ve made foolish mistakes. Times when we’ve been less than loveable. Perhaps even times when we’ve failed them in hurtful ways. A friend shows patience, concern, and understanding. They stick when times are tough.

Friends influence us.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, friends can change us. This can be a positive or a negative thing. Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (NKJV). I learned this firsthand when a friend at work caused me to become dissatisfied with my job—a job I had really enjoyed until then. With a little soul-searching, I realized the job wasn’t the problem; the negative friend was. Another friend did volunteer work to make her community a better place. She inspired me to look for similar opportunities in my community. Both people influenced me, but in very different ways.

Friends improve us.

Proverbs 27:17 tells us “iron sharpens iron.” Because we can be honest with each other (sometimes brutally so), friends help each other smooth out the rough spots. It’s easier to take constructive advice from a friend because we know they speak out of love and concern. There is also the element of accountability as we allow someone to speak into our lives. They challenge us to excel.

If you haven’t thanked God for the loving, supportive friends He has placed in your life, why not do so now. And then, take time today to tell that friend how much their friendship means to you.

Prayer: Lord, bless my friends in a special way today. Thank You for placing them in my life. And most of all, thank You for being the greatest friend I’ve ever had.

“So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the family of faith” (Galatians 6:10, New English Translation).

November 13 of each year is celebrated as World Kindness Day. Although it has “world” in the title, only certain countries recognize it and there’s no particular way in which it is celebrated. Perhaps that’s because there are so many ways to show kindness. The holiday season, now approaching, seems to elicit feelings of kindness and generosity in many people, but I don’t believe it can be confined to just one day or one season of the year.

So, what exactly is kindness?

The dictionary defines kindness as “the state or quality of being kind” (dictionary.com). Not too helpful is it? It doesn’t convey the true feeling of the word. Someone once described kindness as love in action. To me that comes closer to its true meaning. Love inspires kindness, and kindness makes the world a better place for all of us. The smallest action can make the biggest difference.

The Gospels abound with stories of the kindness—the love in action—Jesus demonstrated during His ministry on earth. Wherever He went, He reached out to the sick, the oppressed, the untouchables of society. Because of His compassion and kindness, regardless of their status or circumstance, Jesus serves as the perfect example for us today.

“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5, NKJV).

God’s kindness (love) is not dependent on how worthy we are; it’s based on how merciful and compassionate He is. Nor can we base extending kindness to others on what we perceive as their worthiness. Does anyone deserve the many blessings and kindnesses that come our way in life?

After meditating on what true kindness is, I then considered the greatest act of kindness I’d received. Was it the unexpected letter of encouragement when going through a difficult situation? Or perhaps the very generous housewarming gift from a friend? Or when my mom sacrificially helped me fulfill what seemed an impossible dream? All of these things were appreciated and wonderful, but none ranks as the greatest.

The greatest loving kindness ever shown me was by Jesus Christ. He was the only one kind enough to take my sins upon Himself and die in my place. Someone once said, “Kindness is showing someone they matter.” Jesus did that for me! When He gave His life on the cross—the greatest expression of love in action—He demonstrated how much I mattered to Him.

“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness’” (Jeremiah 31:3, NIV).

God’s great loving kindness causes me to ask how I can emulate this kindness to others. I can’t die for them—He already has—but I can tell them about the One whose love transcends anything they can imagine. I can tell them how much they matter to God.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the greatest act of love, mercy, and kindness ever shown. Help me to testify of Your love in action to everyone I meet.