Monday, July 28, 2014

How To Control Jealousy In Your Friendships

The other day I was driving down the road with my youngest daughter and two of her neighborhood friends in the backseat.  I heard my daughter say from the backseat, "My best friend Sara (let's call her) and I ..."  I felt myself cringe at the word "best" being used in the company of what I know are two of her closest friends.  The reason I cringed is I know what division putting qualifiers on a relationship can cause.  She didn't understand that qualifying her friend Sara as "best" surely meant that she was qualifying her present friends as "not best".

It seems all too common to me.  It is common for me to qualify relationships in my heart or even when talking to that specific friend.  However, I have tried over the last few years not to qualify them on Facebook or on my blog or in conversations with other people.  I may say sweet friend or good friend instead.  Unfortunately, I know that qualifying a friend as "my best friend" excludes everyone else.  That exclusion, whether intended or not, can hurt feelings.

Maybe you know the scenario or have felt this way yourself.  I know I have.  You see a picture on Facebook or an event that looks like fun that you were not invited to.  That little green eyed monster sees an opportunity to sit up on your shoulder and speak doubts and lies into your mind such as:
You see, they really don't like you.
Your friend is happier with her other friends.
Your friendship is not as special as you think it is.
They must not like you, because they did not invite you to their event.

On and on the thoughts might go, but who do you think put those thoughts into your mind?  If your answer was Satan, I would give you a gold star if I could.  We must remember that if we are jealous of our friend's other friendships then we are not truly loving them.  1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (ESV) says, "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends."  I think if we truly love our friends, we will desire them to have many deep friendships other than ours as long as they are Christian friendships that are not leading them down the wrong path.  Here is why I think so.


Let me give an example.  My husband is very meticulous, and he always keeps my knives very sharp.  His motto is "having the right tool for the job" so he is very good about keeping my knives sharp so I can have the right tool for my cooking job.  When he sharpens a knife, he will run the knife on the right sharpening rod and then on the left.  Then he will slide the blade from the back of the blade to the front as he works his way from the top of the sharpening rod to the bottom of each rod.  He will run the blade alternating left to right, sliding the knife from the back of the blade to the front, and running it all the way from the top to the bottom.  Over and over again he will run it.  Why?  He wants to get every side and every angle of that blade the sharpest it can be.  When he is done, I bet I could cut through a Coke can with it (which I would never do, honey, so don't worry).

Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."  If you truly desire your friend to only be friends with you, you are desiring your friend to be sharpened only on one side.  To truly love your friend, you should desire her (or him) to have many Christian friendships.  To truly love her, you want her to become more like Christ.  I have friends who I can tell anything to, friends I feel at home with, friends who are mighty prayer partners, friends who hold my feet to the fire spiritually, friends who make me laugh, etc.

I want to be sharpened by all of my Christian friends.  Left and right, back and forth, and up and down.  Jealousy, even though common, should have no place in my relationships.  Jealousy focuses on self, and love focuses on others.  If I truly love as Christ loved, I will want my friend to be sharpened into a beautiful picture of Christ.  Left and right, back and forth, and up and down.  I should know that I cannot sharpen her on every side.  I am inadequate to do it.  So, let go a little bit and let your friend be sharpened by others into a beautiful picture of Christ.  Let go and love her unconditionally!

"And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:2, ESV

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