This issue of OUTLOOK is all about making peace with your friends. Sounds like a good idea! It is better to be at peace than have contention, jealousies or frustrations with one another.
Here are a few consequences of not being at peace with one another:
- Loss of companionship. If you are at odds with someone, you invariably will not spend time with them and your worlds will only move further apart.
- Bitterness can take over. I heard a preacher once describe bitterness as being locked up in a dungeon in which you alone hold the key to get out. We all have known people who are bitter…perhaps some who are reading this find themselves in the “dungeon” now and know how painful it can be.
- Loss of influence. One of the most painful realities of not being at peace with a friend is that it robs you of being able to be an encouragement or blessing to them. Your ability to share the love of Christ with them or even pray with them is diminished.
An opportunity lost
When I was in college, there was a fellow student who irritated me to no end. In my mind, he was the classic “smart aleck.” In the classroom, he always knew the right answers and chided any of us who differed from him. This didn’t sit well with me and soon I began disagreeing with him in class just because I enjoyed watching him get angry. I even disagreed with him when I knew he was right, because it was “fun” to watch him react. (I am not proud of this).
Over time we came to an understanding—we were not supposed to like each other. When the next semester came along, I hoped beyond hope I would not have any classes with him. Sure enough, he was not in any of my classes. As a matter of fact, I didn’t see him anywhere on campus. One day I asked the dean what had happened to him. I will never forget standing in the boy’s dorm lobby and hearing the dean tell me he hadn’t come back because he was struggling with the death of his brother (which happened right before school started) and he didn’t feel he had any friends here.
That hit me like a ton of bricks! While I was nursing my petty grudge with him, inside he was hurting. Because of my unwillingness to befriend him, I lost an opportunity to be a help and encouragement to him during a difficult time in his life.
Are you withholding God’s love?
Recently I heard a new definition of hatred. The person described hatred as withholding the love of God from someone. This definition may be going a bit too far, but what I learned from my experience with my classmate was that withholding the love of God is a dangerous and costly mistake.
This is why I believe Paul says in Romans 12, near the list of ways we are to behave as a church, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18 NLT).
To do otherwise is to withhold God’s love.
But what about those really hard to love people? you might ask. Or what about those who have been unkind or even betrayed us? What do we do with them?
I leave you with Christ’s own example of always being someone who loved—regardless of the way He was treated. “So Judas came straight to Jesus. ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ he exclaimed and gave him the kiss. Jesus said, ‘My friend…”’ (Matt. 26:49, 50 NLT).