I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately. What it means, what it looks like. There are a lot of definitions, and historically it can be a pretty broad term.
You hear a lot of people say that a good friendship (or any relationship) requires that both give 100%, or some say 50/50, or it goes both ways. And in many cases that is true...but I think this is mostly talking more about peer-type friendships or partnerships (like husband and wife).
In Psalm 133 David sings about how wonderful it is when the brethren (the church - the people of God) dwell (settle down and continually remain together) in unity. Then David gives this metaphor - it is like anointing oil poured over Aaron's head, running down his face, down his beard, onto his shoulders and garment. Ok, that might sound super weird to you, but a wise friend/mentor of mine said that "Love flows like anointing oil, from the top down" - and in context of this verse - it makes total sense.
I guess, for a while there, I was feeling like maybe I/we (my hubs and I) missed the mark somehow because we don't have a lot of friendships that might look like the peer friendship that the world tells us about - both give 100%, or 50/50, or it's going both ways. Some people might say that in most of the relationships that we have there could be an imbalance of "power" or "influence"...and all this time I've been feeling like maybe I was doing something wrong...
...like maybe I somehow needed to step it up to be a better friend to the woman who are 10+ years my senior...but the thing is...I don't have the same life experiences and wisdom yet, and I can't offer them what they are able to offer me, because time has not given it to me yet. But I can pour what they have given me down on those walking the steps behind me. Those that I felt like maybe I needed to try not to be so advice-givey (yeah, I know that's not a word), so they feel more "equal" to me somehow. But that's not it either.
Unity in God's people is like anointing oil - love is like anointing oil...it flows down from those in leadership (by way of appointment or age or personality or experience or whatever) to those a step or two behind them, and from them further down. The more you can receive from those who have gone before you, the more you have to pour on those who are coming up behind you.
So while there is great beauty in peer-type friendship and partnership - these aren't necessarily the only types of relationships to pursue or that have value. Actually, if you look at the body of a person there are only two arms or two legs, there are 10 fingers, so maybe you are lucky to have 9 peer-type friendships (just kidding, it's not an exact science, just a metaphor), but the relationships that really show the beauty of unity and life with Christ are often those where one may have little to offer the other, other than gratitude. Or like a child with their parent, they really can never know the sacrifices and love their parent poured into them, and the only way they can return that love is by pouring it back out into their own children.
So just remember this - peers are great and important friendships, but mentors and mentees, those who have gone before you and those who'll need your wisdom as they are coming up the rear, are the relationships that this life is made of...love flows like anointing oil, from the top down...so fill your cup and pour it out.
Good friends won’t demand that you accept them the way they
are…healthy, confident people either. It doesn't mean that they will change at your every passing whim, but that they
can accept constructive criticism, own their own failures, and allow you the freedom
to accept or reject them. It’s a pretty
vulnerable thing, actually, to be honest about who you are and not demand
acceptance. But - it is totally possible
when you realize your worth and value in Christ. And once you get that, you are solid, yet
flexible enough to bend and weave to make room for the needs of others without
losing your own nature.
·A thing that
constitutes a violation of what is judged to be right or natural.
resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or
one's standards or principles.
3.the action of
brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like
the bars of a castle.” - Proverbs 18:19
Offense is a funny thing. It’s like this seed planted in your heart,
trying to grow, and each time you think of it or see that person it’s like
watering the seed. And offense, it is a
hardy plant, growing best in the most frigid of climates.
But once we are in Christ, and have
known His great and powerful mercy, we must learn to utilize this resource to
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is
his glory to overlook an offense.”
We are human however, and offense is sure to come! People will let us down and hurt us, and
whether or not it is intended; we will be tempted to be offended. The first definition of offense is literally
that someone broke a law or moral code – it is an offense. But the outcome of that offense lies greatest
in our response. Whether or not we
respond like the second definition and become annoyed. Most of the time, choosing to pluck out that
seed immediately saves our own life more than any other.
The other reason to overlook an offense, especially if you
are a Christian, is because when you become offended, you are literally on offense
(think sports) – just like the third definition of offense. If you are on offense, then the other
person(s) must be on defense.
1.the action of defending from or resisting attack.
·attempted justification or vindication of something.
·a means of protecting something from attack.
·fortifications or barriers against attack.
· (in sports) the action or
role of defending one's goal against the opposition.
2.the case presented by or on behalf of the party being accused or
sued in a lawsuit.
3.one or more defendants and the counsel in a trial.
The problem with you being on offense
and them being on defense is that you are now on opposing teams; there is no
“With all humility and gentleness, with
patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the
Spirit in the bond of peace.” -Ephesians
Not only is there no longer unity between you and that person,
even if you are initially kind to their face, is that soon after the offense
takes root, it sprouts a growth that tempts you to tell others about how you
feel. Offense is like a weed, it’s seed
spreads like wildfire.
“There are six things that theLordhates, seven that are an abomination
to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a
heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false
witness who breathes out lies, and one
who sows discord among brothers.”
The Lord HATES one who sows discord among brothers. It is an abomination to Him. How often are we tempted (and act on it too)
even just to knowingly roll our eyes with our girlfriends about someone else
who really gets under our skin. We are literally sowing discord, tempting others to separate and alienate someone else.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of
angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I
have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I
have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If
I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not
love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it
is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable
or resentful; ...” -1 Corinthians
We are commanded to
love God and love our neighbor as ourselves (all the law and the prophets hinge
on these two things), and love is not irritable or resentful.
shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people,
but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am theLord.” -Leviticus 19:18
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For
with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you
use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your
brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can
you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is
the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” -Matthew 7:1-5
come. Other people will do things that
are wrong, and it will hurt. Other
people will do things that we do not care for, and we will feel irritated. But God commands us to choose to humbly seek for unity in the body (the church), to strive for peace, to cover one another in love, and
overlook irritation and choose not to judge.
No small order, it seems. But the
longer I walk with Christ, and the more I see of my own humanity and the more I
see how much He overlooks and covers with grace for me, the more I am able to
extend that same grace to others. And
when I struggle, I pray for Him to help me see them as He does.
But NO ONE gets to
claim that it is just their personality to be easily irritated. And definitely claiming that they are just
honest is a great big lie. Think of it:
how high must one think of themselves? How
prideful must we be to think that we get to decide the rightness and worth of
someone else? And think of how our
offense can hurt others, especially those who are trying to grow in Christ. When we in the church allow our hearts to get
offended, we often push out others who are trying to find their way in
A few weeks ago I saw this blog post (sorry can’t remember exactly who, but it was an author and speaker) – anyway she was writing to women who feel compelled to write, specifically a book or a blog.She was encouraging them to do so, and to begin now.And in closing she shared a thought that has really stuck with me.Many people feel compelled to write, and although they may never be a NY Times best seller or even ever be published, their words will touch the hearts of those they love and especially after they are gone from this earth, share wisdom and hope and what God has done to inspire those they leave behind.
The book that I am currently reading, one in a series of fiction novels by Karen Kingsbury, shares the impact of a particular woman’s letters on her husband and children after she has passed away.Her husband finds wisdom, hope, and peace in re-reading her words.Her children find wisdom and guidance at just the right time, and her memory stands stronger with them for her words.
“In the beginning was
the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” –John 1:1
“In the beginning God
created the heavens and the earth,
The earth was without
form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the
face of the waters.
Then God said, ‘ Let
there be light’; and there was light.”
Words are a pretty
powerful thing. We
often forget their impact, especially today when words, thoughts, texts, ideas,
and images are so carelessly thrown at us like a whirlwind from every
The Word literally
brought forth life into this world. God
wrote His Word and transformed our lives, and gave us insight into His ways,
His Truth, His redemption story. So even
if it’s just a few words, or a note here and there, or even just being more
conscientious about the words we speak – remember that our words can literally
bring light into darkness, they can birth new life.