Blog, Living in the Abundance of Christ

Friend or Frenemy?

I recently ran into a former “friend”, in fact a fellow believer, and I say former only because we no longer share our lives with each other. She told me about all the great things going on in her life, and her family life, and how happy she was. I was glad for her. And then she asked me about my family and myself, and as I started to tell her I realized she didn’t care to know. She proceeded to quickly wrap up the conversation and leave. She didn’t want to know any of what was going on with me, she only wanted me to know that she was doing great. Although it had been evident to me that we were not like we used to be, this confirmed it, she wasn’t my friend. I started questioning if she ever had been. I don’t know. I just know that in that moment I realized that I did not want to be that kind of “friend” to someone else. It hurt. It still does.

People can be vicious and downright mean, especially women, to each other. They are the types that are happy when you fail, in any perceived way, from being glad when you put on 10 pounds, to knowing and sharing intimate details of your life that are painful to you or your family. Or it can be a friendship that is not reciprocated; you care about them, but they don’t care about you (or vice versa). It is something terrible and twisted when people you call friends act this way, but when Christians act this way, your brothers and sister in Christ, it is even worse.

I’ve seen it often in the friendships of women, how competition and jealousy fuel behavior. Cliques form of like-minded people who are willing to “go along to get along”, and newcomers, unless they have this same mind-set, are not included. But they are ultimately without love, their friendships are for their own benefits, and eventually they turn on each other.

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh…Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:14-16, 19-21

Let this not be said of Christian friendships. They should not look like world’s idea of friendship. We should not want to see other people fail so that we can prop ourselves up on their “failure’s”. We should not be quick to share our great news, while carefully hiding our own junk and messiness (because we ALL have it), and not be concerned about our sisters in Christ, and what’s going on in their lives.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

How can we prop ourselves up on other people’s failures, while bearing their burdens?

We can’t.

How can we bear one another’s burdens if we have no idea what’s going on in their lives, or worse don’t care to know? 

We can’t!

I am guilty on all accounts, in both worldly and Christian friendships. I have failed and sinned in all the areas I’ve written about, from wanting other people to fail, and saying harsh words against them,  to being more concerned about my life than theirs. Over the last few years I have had to ask many people for forgiveness for things I’ve said or done. Even if I had unintentionally hurt them with my words, or my action wasn’t motivated by malice, I was still wrong, still acting in sin, still taking after the world instead of Christ.

Thankfully, God continues to change my mind and then my heart, he doesn’t leave me where I was or am, but through the process of sanctification, a painful and merciful process, he changes me. I am more aware of how my actions and attitudes affect others. I now know the kind of relationships I want to have, and I want those relationships to be motivated by love.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:22-26

There are 3 assurances we have (if you are in Christ) regarding friendships, and ultimately all relationships. These apply when we have been hurt and betrayed by others and when we have hurt and betrayed others.

  1. Vengeance belongs to the Lord. Although it is right to seek justice if you are able, and to set boundaries, many times in close relationships there’s not much you can do when people hurt or betray you. You have to leave it in God’s hands. This goes as far as praying for your enemies (Matt. 5:44),  and doing them good and not harm (repaying no one evil for evil, Rom. 12:17). There will ultimately be justice. God will bring his judgement, and you will have vindication, but this belongs to God.

    “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written,
    “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

  2. Their sin was paid for on the cross by Jesus, if they are Christians, as was yours and mine. Maybe this doesn’t comfort you, but it should. John Piper explains here: “The suffering of Christ was the recompense of God on every hurt I have ever received from a fellow Christian. Therefore, Christianity does not make light of sin. It does not add insult to our injury. On the contrary, it takes the sins against us so seriously that, to make them right, God gave his own Son to suffer more than we could ever make anyone suffer for what they have done to us.” (You can read his full article here.)

    “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

  3. We are hidden in Christ.  We are salt and light in this dark world so that everyone can see, but there is an aspect of our individual relationship with Christ that is only seen by the individual and Christ. It is precious and wonderful to know that I share a relationship with Christ that is intimate between the two of us (and so do you if you have put your trust wholly in him). I am hidden in him, and that is both comforting and strengthening. No one can take it away or touch it, it is hidden in him.

    “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4

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