What do you owe your friends?
What do you owe your friends?
When was the last time you disagreed with someone you love? And I’m not talking about a little spat. I mean you disagreed so strongly that you had to step back from each other. It’s been a while for me, but it has happened to me before. It’s not fun either, regardless of who is in the right.
But what do you do?
If you’re in the wrong, you make it right. That much is obvious. But what if you’re in the right? Are you powerless? Should you just give up and not even try to pursue the relationship?
The Bible has a lot to say about friendship and what it means to be a friend to someone. There’s also a lot of information in there about relationships in general, the Golden Rule and all that. But there’s also quite a bit about wasting your time as well, because if you’ve got a friend in your life who’s hurting you and won’t change, you should walk away.
But where do you draw the line?
Philippians is probably my favorite book in the Bible. You can’t read Philippians and have a bad day. You just can’t. My pastor calls it an anti-depressant. But I’d never really paid much attention to the beginning of the last chapter.
In Philippians 4:2-3, Paul writes to his colleagues in the Church at Philippi: “Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.”
Imagine getting relationship advice from the Apostle Paul.
One thing I’ve learned about the Bible after all these years, nothing in it is accidental. It’s not just a coincidence that Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is telling these two woman to get along. Whoever Euodia and Syntyche were they were leaders in the Church. They had worked with Paul and other people in the Church together, and something had happened between them that set them against each other.
Paul had personal experience with this too. He’d had a best friend at one point, Barnabus (my favorite Bible character). He and Barnabus went everywhere and did everything together, but they had a falling out. They “disagreed strongly” and went their separate ways (Acts 15:36-41). And God still used them both, obviously, but it took a while for them to reconcile.
I imagine that was on Paul’s mind when he wrote this, but I find it interesting that God had him include it.
It’s one thing for friends to fall out. It’s something else if those friends are also both Christ-followers. We are family, and we owe it to our brothers and sisters in Christ to try to work out the rough spots of working together.
It’s one thing for friends to fall out. It’s something else if those friends are also both Christ-followers.
Emotions run high in disagreements. Sometimes we say things we don’t mean. And, yes, sometimes disagreements lead us to different paths, and sometimes God wants us to work separately from each other. But God never desires conflict between His children.
If you belong to God, settle the disagreements you have with your brothers and sisters in Christ. You owe them that much. Be open to admitting you might be wrong, and even if you aren’t wrong, understand that your words or actions may have be hurtful without your knowing it.
You might have to walk away from a friendship. You might have to separate. But at least try to settle it first. Don’t give up on your brothers and sisters in Christ. None of us are perfect.