“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 ESV
“True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity.” George Washington
- Have you called your prayer partner this week? A friend who faithfully prays with you and for you is one of God’s greatest gifts. If you do not have a prayer partner, pray that God will bring you one.
- Dear friends, it is time to renew your heart and mind and meet with Jesus. Take a moment to quiet your spirit and refocus your thoughts. Breathe in God’s grace, and feel His love. Ask Him to speak to your heart through this study.
- Read Philippians 2:1-5, and write Philippians 2:4 (preferable ESV) in your journal. The Bible has plenty to say about friendship and peaceful living! For further study, read or write the other scriptures mentioned below.
Conflict Among Friends
Have you noticed a theme throughout the Gospels regarding the closeness within the first Church? The New Testament paints a beautiful picture of how we should live in harmony with one another. The Christian community sustained Paul while he was in prison and supported him when he was traveling and preaching. Paul repeatedly encouraged his dear friends in their journeys with Jesus by paying visits and writing epistles to brethren all over the known world.
The Apostle Paul penned letters to both the Hebrew and Roman Churches urging them to live in peace with everyone (Hebrews 12:14, Romans 12:18). You see, he knew that if the Church is to provide light to a dark world, then we must be united in love. Not just some of us; all of us. Paul personally addressed two women in Philippi pleading with them not only to work out their differences but to “be of the same mind in the Lord” (Philippians 4:2-3).
That certainly is a lofty ideal! It takes effort to be consistently kind and forgiving towards friends, let alone reaching a place of complete agreement. A few years ago God placed my polar opposite into my life, and she helped me to realize how to struggle and work toward that place of unity.
She and I met through a mutual friend and discovered that not only were we neighbors, but our kids were the same ages and our schedules practically identical. Naturally, in spite of our differences, we became fast friends, and so did our children. Then as we got to know each other better, our conflicting personalities came to light, and our time together grew increasingly strained. As our kids began fighting, we came to realize our parenting styles are just as different as we are.
We had a few arguments and eventually avoided each other completely, but God wouldn’t allow the two of us to quietly drift apart. I was convicted that, according to Proverbs 16:7, as long as either one of us harbored any bitterness or sadness instead of peace, I could not wash my hands of the situation.
Hebrews 12:15 commands, “See that no one comes short or the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble” (emphasis mine). Therefore, I am not only accountable for my heart, but I must also attempt to settle any bitterness against me (Philippians 2:4). Through much prayer and patience, we resolved our conflict, and in time, our friendship healed and grew.
Unfortunately, growth rarely comes easily, but as difficult as the experience was, I am better, and our bond is stronger because of it. The relationship that is refined by fire and withstands trials will be stronger in the end. With prayer and honest effort, no conflict will last forever. I have had other friendships die out over the years, and I regret I didn’t work harder to save them. I can only hope that I will use this struggle and what I learned to be a better in the future.
Questions to Ponder
- Do you have old friendships that ended badly? Maybe some that quietly faded as you took different paths in life? Pray for God’s grace and redemption, that He will make all bitterness cease.
- Pray that God will redeem your lost friendships. Who comes to mind when you read this study? Consider sending her an email or a kind note, and ask God to give you the words.
Sometimes it is best to distance yourself from the past to grow and change, but you can always pray for those you have loved. If there is a good reason you lost touch with an old friend, you probably know just what to pray for them.
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