Today we’re featuring a new book by our very own Holley Gerth, encourager extraordinaire! Her new book, You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect is a beautiful reminder that we don’t have to get our act together, and we’re not supposed to be perfect. She challenges us to think about how life would be different if we truly believed we’re loved, just the way we are. We know you’ll be encouraged by her words today!

The Friend Our Hearts Need Most

I have called you friends.

– Jesus {John 15:15}

Of all the ways God addresses us, “friends” seems the most scandalous to me. Because we choose our friends. We spend time with them because we want to. We willingly open our hearts and lives to them. And yet it’s in that place of friendship where many of us need the most healing. When God says He’s our “friend,” it can feel unsafe because some friends haven’t treated us well. What does it really mean to have a friend?

A Loving Friend Chooses You
We are born into families, but we pick our friendships. When God says you’re his friend, He’s saying He wants you. For many years I thought what God felt toward me was obligation. He had to love me. He had to put up with me. But when He calls us “friends,” it changes everything.

A Loving Friend Enjoys You
We spend time with friends for many different reasons, but one clearly is this: we like to be together. Studies have shown that being with friends is one of life’s most enjoyable activities. We love our friends, but we also really like them too. When God says you’re His friend, it means He likes you too. He enjoys you. He wants to be with you. “The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” {Psalm 147:11}.

A Loving Friend Doesn’t Speak Negatively about You
Most of the wounds in friendships come from words. Someone makes a critical remark about us, we overhear a bit of gossip, or we feel judged rather than accepted when we need it most. We can picture God the same way. We imagine Him in heaven listing off our faults or the ways we could do better. But it’s the devil who is the accuser of the brethren {see Revelation 12:10}. That negative, critical, condemning voice in your mind, heart, or life is not God.

1 Corinthians 4:5 says, “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” Did you catch that? We will receive praise from God. Not criticism. Not accusation. Not condemnation. Because of Jesus, we will receive praise. God will talk to us like a friend.

A Loving Friend Is Your Advocate and Encourager
Not only does Jesus not speak negatively about you, He is actually your advocate. He defends you when the enemy tries to speak against you. “If anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” {1 John 2:1}. The enemy is the accuser; Jesus is the advocate. And the Holy Spirit speaks encouragement into our lives, reminding us of who we truly are and what we’re called to do.

One reason we strive so hard to be perfect is to silence that critical voice in our minds. So let’s pause right now and agree on this together: That critical voice is not God. Friends love each other with their words.

A Loving Friend Helps You Become All You’re Created to Be
The true test of friendship is this: Does this person want me to be who I am or turn me into someone else? God created you for a purpose. He knit you together in your mother’s womb. He gave you strengths, skills, and a unique design. He doesn’t want you to change who you are; He wants you to become more of who you are. Beware of anyone who says, “To please God, you must be like me (or us).”

No, Jesus has already made you pleasing to God through His death on the cross and His resurrection. Now He wants you to be you. And God loves variety. Think about your friends and how there’s something different you love about each one of them. Would you want them all to be the same? Nope. And God feels the same way about His friends too.

Here’s the wonderful, scandalous news our hearts need to know: We are friends of God and He not only loves us — He really likes us too.

Holley Gerth

For more encouragement from Holley Gerth, purchase a copy of her new book You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart From the Need to Be Perfect at dayspring.com.

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