“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints” Colossians 1:3-4 (NLT)
I’ve noticed a pattern in my life and the lives of others: friends come and go. Now, please restrain yourself from flipping backwards in your chair from the sheer profoundness (totally a word) of that statement. My mentor taught me this wise concept: friends are like flowers, some are perennial and others annuals. Perennial friends, like the flowers, bloom each season and are around for many, many years. Other friends are like annual flowers, they are only there for a season, and do not stay throughout the years.
There are many reasons why some friends stay in our lives and others leave. Marriage, relocation, job transfers, and busy schedules can cause some friendships to be short-lived, but may it never be said of us that we have lost friends because of a bitter root that was never addressed.
In Philippians, Paul calls out two women in the church for their dispute, “Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.” (Phil. 4:2, NLT). Paul goes on to talk about how they worked well with Paul sharing the Gospel, but something happened between them and they no longer would serve together.
Satan is still doing the same thing today that he did to Euodia and Syntyche two thousand years ago. In John 10, Jesus describes Satan as a thief who comes to “steal, kill and destroy”, and that is exactly what he wants to do with our God-honoring friendships and in Jesus’ church today.
So often, our disagreements, disappointments, frustrations, preferences, or jealousies (whether we admit that one or not), distract us from the work we need to do with the very people that could be sharing our burdens and working hand in hand with us.
Often it starts as something small, like a comment your friend makes leaving you guessing her intent. Your best friend gets engaged, and although you are excited for her, you secretly wish it was you. Maybe your friend has a quirk that is beginning to drive you crazy, or she adopts a few new friends that you just cannot gel with. It starts as the tiniest seed, but before you know it, if not dealt with, the seed will grow into a full-fledged root of bitterness crowding out any room for the compassion, love and thankfulness once had for your friend. You see, Satan knows that if we are fighting with each other, we cannot partner together to win the lost for Christ.
So where are you today? Is there a seed of bitterness growing in your heart? Or maybe your once great relationship is now in shambles and you feel like you don’t even know your old friend anymore. Maybe a friend of yours really hurt you, and you refuse to forgive. When these problems arise, let’s address the issue before God, humble ourselves (1 Peter 5:6) and consider our friend better than we are (Philippians 2:3). It is important to recognize that our sisters and brothers in Christ are not our enemies, Satan is, and he will do anything to distract us from the message of the Gospel.
Let’s ask the Lord to open our eyes to where Satan has deceived us and brought an unnecessary wedge between our relationships. Then, let’s work to humbly restore those friendships, walking together shoulder-to-shoulder, fighting for the Gospel. There isn’t enough time to be distracted. We have a real war to fight with our fellow Christian friends.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. “ Ecclesiastes 4:9