For several days now, I’ve been thinking about and praying for a righteous perspective about relationships…friendships…the sisterhood. Like most areas of living, if we can get HIS view into our own focus, we can get this right. After thinking and maybe even overthinking, I believe the age-old secret to preserving godly relationships is deeply embedded in the concept of agape, itself. And it really seems pretty simple to me.
I think there are two premises that are required for friendships that cannot be severed. It’s important to remember that BOTH premises must be central to BOTH parties in a relationship. It seems to me that, if they are, you have a friendship that can’t be annulled; a kinship that will never end. If they are not, the friendship is severely compromised.
The first premise is this: I will never intentionally offend you, unless I must offend you to obey God.
The second premise is this: I will never be offended by something you inadvertently do, unless it is sinful, and thus offends God.
Perhaps this is an oversimplification, but it seems to me, that if BOTH parties in a relationship are willing and able to maintain BOTH of these premises, there will be no end to the “green pastures” through which he leads and protects us. Adherence to the first premise means that I will love you enough to do whatever it is that would keep you safe from insult or injury in my relationship with you, up to the point of offending my Lord. The second means I will love you enough to give you the benefit of the doubt when I am tempted to become offended, unless you are sinning in the offense.
I believe this is Biblical. The first premise is based on many passages, including I Corinthians 10:24.
Let no man seek His own, but every man another’s well-being.
The second premise finds a home in many places, too. Among them would be I Corinthians 13:4-7
Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
The first premise makes me pray “Lord please help me to be only an encouragement to this, my sister, and help me never to be a stumbling block to her in any way. Let me show her always your grace and your light and place my own desires below her needs and desires.”
The second premise makes me pray “Lord, please help me to think the very best of this, my sister. Please help me to be longsuffering enough to know that she loves me and that she would never intentionally hurt me.”
If we both are thinking both ways, we can’t ever lose relationships over things that are less important than the gospel. I believe a great example of this is the relationship of Jonathan and David. Surely Jonathan placed his own desires below the needs of David as he risked his own life in the advancement of David, even against his own flesh and blood (I Samuel 20—premise 1). Surely David must have always been thinking only the best of Jonathan, even as Jonathan died fighting in the army of David’s own enemy, Saul. It is encouraging to see David’s memorial honoring of Jonathan even after he lost his life in service to Saul (II Samuel chapters 1&9—premise 2).
I hope and believe I can rely on these Biblical principles to guide me to godly relationships…those relationships that can always promote unity and evangelism among and by His people today.