I once read this statement and it has stuck in my mind: “Friends may come and friends may go, but enemies accumulate.” It was probably said by some famous person or by a character in a famous book, but that part didn’t stick.
I think there are two reasons why it stuck in my mind. First, because I have known people like that. They can never forgive a friend who doesn’t entirely agree with them or who fails to live up to their expectations in some other way. One by one, they cut off communication with those they once called friends. Finally they are bitter and lonely people who feel everyone has betrayed them.
The second reason I remember it is because it seems that for a Christian the saying should be reversed: “Enemies may come and enemies may go, but friends accumulate.” Solomon said it well in Proverbs 16:7: “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
The apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:18: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” We may have disagreements with others and sometimes we will need to express our disagreement in clear and explicit terms. But this does not mean that we are justified in developing a dislike of the other person. Sometimes we will need to apologize for something we have said or done and we trust that a true friend will forgive us.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:44: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” This will have the effect of drastically reducing the number of our enemies.
At a quick count, I have lived in at least 25 different houses or apartments, in five of the ten provinces of Canada, beginning and ending in Saskatchewan. As best as I can recall, the neighbours were always good neighbours. Of course we had more to do with some than we did with others, but there are none that I would dread meeting again.
I really don’t think I am by nature a warm, friendly and outgoing person. In fact, I think I started out in life with quite a lot of rough edges that probably grated on others (probably still do, those rough edges haven’t all worn off).
If I have accumulated friends rather than enemies, it must be due to the grace of God providing a kind of spiritual lubricant that smooths my relations with others.
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