By Women, For Women

“Making the Most of Friendship”

By Lydia Casey

Our nation recently marked the fifth anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001. There were plenty of movies and television shows looking back on that terrible day, and I watched a few of them. These programs were very difficult to watch for so many reasons, as they often brought the terror down to a personal level with the individual stories of those who survived and those who did not.

The destruction of the World Trade Center has been reenacted very realistically a number of times. While watching one such documentary on the Discovery Channel, I was riveted by the story of three office friends who were trying to make it out of one of the towers. As they stumbled down the smoky stairwell, with firemen ascending the stairs next to them, they were surely aware of the dire need to get out as quickly as they could. Yet, one of the men was having a lot of trouble continuing, and he had to stop to rest several times. His two companions pleaded with him to get up and keep going. He refused, saying he just couldn’t make it.

After still more urging, and with obvious reluctance, one of the men resumed his flight down the stairs to safety on his own. The other man stayed with his exhausted friend, continuing to beg him to get on his feet. After a while, he was able to start moving slowly down the stairs again, leaning heavily on the man who had stayed behind with him. Tragically, they did not make it out of the tower before it collapsed, and they lost their lives.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:12-13).

Thankfully, not many of us will be called upon to die while trying to help a friend. Extreme circumstances like those of September 11th don’t unfold very often. However, in our day-to-day involvement with our friends, there are other things we should be doing to show our love for them. If we aspire to the “great love” that Jesus was instructing His apostles to have for each other, with laying down one’s life as the ultimate expression of that love, we must be willing to demonstrate other attributes of true friendship, as well.

Sisters in Christ, are we as careful of each other’s feelings as we could be? In kindergarten, first grade, and now second grade, my daughter has been warned by the teacher not to pass out birthday party invitations at school, so as not to hurt the feelings of a child who has not been included. This is a valuable life lesson for these children, and I hope that it stays with them, because, sadly, too many grownups don’t get it! Kindness and thoughtfulness should be second nature to us as Christian women, but sometimes they aren’t – perhaps not out of a deliberate desire to wound another person, but because we just don’t stop and think about what the other person might be thinking or experiencing. We must resolve to be kind and thoughtful toward each other, not only do it when it’s convenient or when we just happen to think of it as we rush through our days.

Congregations of the Lord’s church can be joyful bands of committed Christians who, as true friends, genuinely love each other. Unfortunately, a congregation can also be a collection of cliques, with little being accomplished toward the collective goal of winning souls to Christ. Earlier in the book of John, Jesus told His apostles that they would be known as His followers because of the love that was apparent between them (13:35). Can gossip, impolite or argumentative speech, or an exclusive attitude by one group toward another group of Christians possibly be part of this picture of “love” that Christ wants? Not a chance (Romans 12:10). To become better, happier, more united people, we might try referring back to some lessons about kindness and respect that we should have learned in kindergarten, as author Robert Fulghum reminded us in the 1990s, when his volumes were on the best seller lists.

When we do hurt each other, either by design or by neglect, our response to the situation says a lot about how seriously we take our responsibilities as Christians. If I have caused a problem, my job is to fix it as quickly and painlessly as possible. My jobs are to say that I was wrong and that I am sorry, and to make sure that everyone has come to a peaceful understanding of what happened. To do less is to invite a buildup of resentment in the heart of the person I hurt, and that certainly will not promote a positive, unified environment within the church.

On the other hand, if I just shrug off the problem lightly, thinking, “Oh, she’ll get over it eventually,” or “She’s just too sensitive,” how helpful is that? How can we “dwell together in unity” with unpleasant, unresolved issues coming between us (Psalm 133:1)? Or, not wishing to accept full responsibility, I might decide that the other person had a hand in the situation, and that she should apologize, also. But if I waited until the other person makes the first move, I would be violating numerous passages that teach us to extend love, generosity, and kindness, even if they are not offered to me (Matthew 5:38-41). “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” might be a cute tag line for the 1970 movie “Love Story,” but it’s a risky, unrealistic philosophy to employ in our relationships. If I have created or contributed to a problem, I must humbly ask for forgiveness, regardless of the choices the other person makes (Colossians 3:12-13).

But what if I am the one who has been hurt? What are my responsibilities as a Christian in that case? First, I should control my irritation and not spread the news of my injured feelings around to anyone who’ll listen (James 1:19). In this situation, I have a choice to make in what to do next. I can calm down and remember that sometimes we all slip up and do things without regard for the other person’s feelings, without meaning to hurt each other. Even if I have not been asked to, I can compassionately forgive that person and not harbor a grudge against her (Matthew 18:21-22; Luke 6:37).

However, I could decide that the matter is sufficiently important to address with the person who has wronged me, and the Scriptures clearly outline the procedure I must follow (Matthew 18:15-17). This kind of conversation can be tricky: both sides need to come together in a spirit of love and meekness, not with spears at the ready and combat boots on. I can’t blast away in an accusing tone at someone and expect a good result. I need to approach cautiously and maturely, making sure there hasn’t simply been a misunderstanding. We must not let our egos get in the way of our friendships and undermine the spiritual unity that we sisters in Christ should be upholding (Proverbs 17:17; Ephesians 4:1-3).

Most of us will go through life without our friendships being tested as those of the three World Trade Center executives mentioned above were on that horrible day. The testing of our friendships will more likely take the form of what words we choose to speak, whose shoulder we choose to hug, and what problem-solving method we choose when someone has been hurt. Let’s resolve to show our love to our sisters in Christ consistently, not excluding some while embracing others. Let’s make sure no one is left out, and that everyone understands how important she is and how much she is truly loved.

Lydia Casey
Lydia [Humphries] Casey is a homemaker with three small daughters. Her husband, Evan, preaches for the Crestwood church of Christ in Crestwood, Kentucky. Before her marriage she worked in radio broadcasting and teaching, both in the US and abroad. She graduated from Western Kentucky University with a B.A. in English and Allied Language Arts. She was Evan’s “help meet” in Hungary for two years (1999-2001) while he was preaching and teaching the gospel there. Their residence was in Budapest. If you wish to communicate with her, you may do so by addressing your remarks to the editor at

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