We have had the blessing of some very long term friendships that have endured both thick and thin times…friendships that are seasoned with both tears of joy and tears of sadness but have grown stronger because of a commitment to a greater vision with an eternal purpose. In these days when love is growing so cold and there is so much pain in the heart of man, I believe the greatest treasure we can give to our children and to each other is to know how to walk in true covenant friendships – ones that last a lifetime.
I think one of the saddest things in the heart of man today is how self-centered most of us really are…it is really reflected in the way so many people leave churches or leave relationships the minute someone disappoints us.. Never mind the years of positive experiences or love expressed from that person – we seem to forget all of that as the offense brews in our heart…we sin by dwelling on a weakness of someone we called ‘friend’ and instead only see them through the eyes of judgment as opposed to seeing them through the eyes of love. There really is a very strong spirit of divorce in this age – not only in marriages, but in family and friend relationships. This is how the enemy has succeeded in breaking our power and disarming us…the anointing of God comes through the unity of the brethren. (Psalm 122). Unfortunately, in this area we have become just like the world around us – full of strife, envy, discord and greed.
The Lord has been showing me that many people stay stuck at about age 16 when they have just enough experience to think they know something but their emotional and spiritual maturity is still lacking.
Let me just say it this way – if we find ourselves getting offended easily and we don’t take responsibility to go to our brother or sister and say “I took this in as an offense – please forgive me. I know you wouldn’t intentionally hurt me and I want you to know I love you”, then we are immature in our walk with God. I don’t care how many services we attend, how many worship songs we listen to, if we don’t walk out the Word of God in real love, then it’s just a bunch of religious actions. If we keep running to find the next perfect spouse, the perfect friend, the perfect boss, the perfect pastor or church, we need to stop and take a good look in the mirror.
Real fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives should be measured by one thing – how much of His Love is reflected in our relationships. Sometimes earthly relationships are broken because of our relationship with Yeshua – He said Himself He didn’t come to bring peace and that He would be the point where we would have to choose between following Him or keeping our family and friends happy. We have walked through this and it is not easy. The friends we had before we chose Yeshua are not the same as the ones we have today. But God is faithful and His Word is true when He said He would give us even deeper relationships that are birthed out of a love for Him. Still, we have always tried to reach out with love to our family showing the gospel by our actions and not our words.
However, If our relationships are built on negatives – meaning, two people both are offended over the same person or situation, and they come together because of this ‘agreement’, this kind of relationship will not stand the test of God…it will crumble when the fire of God comes -it is but chaff.
David and I are so thankful to God for several very close long term relationships – some for 25 years. Since giving our lives to Yeshua, we only attended one church for 14 years in Jacksonville, before God led us to Seattle to begin our ministry. What a blessing for David to be able to ask our pastor to ordain him, knowing that we had so many years of covenant love as a foundation. And to continue in that relationship over these last 11 years. What an amazing gift! It is not that we have not made mistakes – we have made many. But we have learned from our mistakes…while chastening from our Abba in heaven might be painful, it is a good thing to see God maturing us in His character. If you have found yourself falling into the enemy’s trap of offense and a spirit of divorce, you can ask God today to change your heart and help you walk in true covenant love. God is a covenant making God, NOT a covenant breaking God. We know we have much more to learn and develop, but our prayer is that He will continue to teach us how to humble ourselves and encourage as many people as we can while on this earth.