Has this ever happened to you? A friend says or does something that hurts your feelings. Instead of turning the other cheek, you stay angry at your friend, simmering inside, not talking to your friend, waiting for your friend to apologize.
Maybe it was something small and seemingly insignificant, such as forgetting an important day or making fun of you over something that you did. Maybe a friend hurt you more deeply by spreading gossip about you or breaking a promise.
Close friends can hurt more deeply than coworkers or more casual friends. Because you count on your friends to uplift you and be on your side, it’s very hurtful when friends act in an unfriendly manner.
Probably every one of us has been both the person offended and the offender at one time or another. In some families, estrangement is a normal way of life. As Christians, we aren’t called to be normal. Christians are called to be Christ-like in everything that we say and do.
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. —1 Corinthians 1:10, KJV
Maybe you’re thinking that was all well and good in the time of Christ, when office politics, water cooler gossip, Facebook status updates didn’t exist.
What was good in the days when Jesus walked the Earth remains just as pertinent in our lives today. True friendships are worth protecting, even if that means being the first to reach out in peace.
Say no to grudges and false pride by acting as Christ instructed his Apostles. Drop the things that divide you from your friends so that you can be perfectly joined together in friendship and fellowship. That also means that you let go of the right to bring whatever hurt you up in future disagreements.
So how does that all fit in when a friend commits a major offense against you? It’s easy to forgive small hurts, but sometimes friends do something seemingly unforgivable that hurts you deeply. What does the Bible teach us about that?
But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. —2 Corinthians 2:5-11, KJV
Remember that Christians are called to be extraordinary, just like Jesus Christ. Others may condemn someone who harms them, but we are called not just to turn the other cheek, but to forgive, comfort and love the one who hurt us.
Christian friendship calls you to be comforting, loving and forgiving, regardless of the circumstances. The alternative, that your friend gets swallowed up with sorrow because of your hardened heart, is simply unacceptable in God’s world.
Instead of putting distance in your friendship, tell your friend that you were hurt by the actions or words involved. Extend your friendship by fully accepting an apology, if one is offered. Even if no apology is offered, move forward, choosing forgiveness, mercy and love for your friend.
That’s how to walk the walk of Christian friendship, the kind of true friendship that leads you closer to God. True friendships help you walk through life’s mine fields. Whether you are at work, at church or in another social setting, having true friends means you never walk alone.