“When you’re careless with other people, you bring ruin on yourself.”
– The Greatest Showman
Don’t judge me – YES, I’ve seen the movie 4 times! I was just paying attention to the intro and took Wolverine, I mean, Hugh’s advice to see it exactly how it was intended – in the theater with a large crowd of people! OK – so maybe there were only 8 of us in the theatre for the singalong version of the movie. 🤣 (Don’t worry – I spared the 7 other people and sang quietly! 😉) Funny thing is, I’ve seen it with 4 different sets of friends! It’s not much for a relationship builder, but I enjoyed it so much that I HAD to share it with others!
Each time I saw the movie, I’ve captured a different quote. This quote stuck out to me with friendships because I KNOW I’ve been careless with other people. It’s caused friendships to come and go, and sometimes without fully knowing why or how the friendship was lost. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this. It causes great anxiety, confusion, and most of all – a hurt heart.
Don’t get me wrong – we have friends who are just different types of relationships, and the coming & going isn’t always that impactful. What I’m talking about here is a close friend. The closest of friends to the point of sharing your heart with abandon. They know your hopes, dreams, struggles, and darkest secrets. If you were to die today, they know all your passwords to all of your accounts and know where your notebooks/journals are to burn!
When we lose those types of friendships, it can send us into a tailspin. This isn’t how friendship, or the end of a friendship, is supposed to go. How can we be less careless (is that right? I’m clearly not great with English *says the Asian*) and more intentional with people, with our words, with doing life with the people around us?
‘I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 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 4:1-3 ESV (emphasis added)
I thought I knew what this whole “bearing with one another in love” meant – you can exist together, put up with them, and carry their burdens if you’re close friends. It’s that simple, right? HA! Was I wrong! I looked up a number of commentaries on these three verses, so let’s break it down first with some John Piper!
John Piper interpreted these verses practically: “If you are humble, you will be gentle, and if you are patient, you will be forbearing or enduring.” As if one leads to the next! Humblesness, gentleness, patience… sounds like another verse about fruits of the spirit, huh? We should be practicing these things already, but in my last post on Friendship + Humility we know that humility takes WORK! These characteristics aren’t grown overnight – it takes diligence to grow these!
Another aspect that Piper talks about is preserving common care for each other. Essentially, he talks about how a humble woman is very aware of her immense debt toward God with her own unbelief and disobedience (sin), and yet so aware of the amazing grace that saved her. Therefore, we shouldn’t be impatient or resentful of others, but long-suffering and forgiving.
On the same note of care for each other, John Gill interpreted “forbearing one another” as “overlooking the infirmities of one another, forgiving injuries done, sympathizing with, and assisting each other in distressed circumstances, the spring of all which should be love; by that saints should be moved, influenced, and engaged to such a conduct, and which should be so far attended to, as is consistent with love; for so to forbear one another, as to suffer sin to be on each other, without proper, gentle, and faithful rebukes for it, is not to act in love.”
John Gill is pointing out that sometimes, bearing with one another means rebuking or calling someone out for what they’re doing or have done. If you aren’t calling out your friend, it’s not actually loving them.
So what does bearing with one another look like in real life? It looks like work, calling them out, and forgiving. I’m working on humility, gentleness, and patience. It looks like being able to have those honest conversations with friends, and being open to listen and actually hear them when the “calling out” is going down (most likely also requiring humility). Bearing with one another looks like forgiveness because none of the above matters if there isn’t forgiveness. Even forgiveness that leads to moving on. Sometimes, friendships aren’t forever.
Why should we bear with one another? Because if we, according to Annie F. Downs, “abandon all the people who matter, then you’ve missed out on how to do this well.” Notice that last line in Ephesians 4:3, “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We are in it together! We, as Christians, are unified by the Spirit, but are strengthened in the bond of peace through what? The bearing with one another in love!