Welcome to the InTouch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Thursday, October 20th. If a friendship has soured, is there a way to restore what was lost? Let's hear some helpful steps from the Word of God for healing troubled friendships. A friend is a treasure. A friend is someone who loves you. A friend is someone who loves you when you're not very lovable. A friend is someone who will catch you when you fall.
Someone who will accept the worst about you and help you to become the best you can possibly be. A friend is someone with whom you can share the deepest experiences of your life every day if you choose to. A friend is someone whom when the world walks out, they're still standing there by your side. And that makes friendships very, very valuable. I read something the other day that I thought was so interesting because it describes oftentimes something that we forget. And that is, it said, make new friends but keep the old.
One is silver and the other is gold. And you think about friends and how long it takes us to develop real godly friendships, real genuine lasting friendships. It takes a while. And therefore, if you are late in life beginning to develop friends, you don't have long to enjoy them or do they have long to enjoy you. And that's why we need to take care of our friendships.
We need to watch over them because the truth is a real true genuine friend is a gift of God's mercy to every one of us. And then there are those times, though, that when our friendships have problems, somebody walks out right when you need them. Or you decide that you can't continue that friendship and you decide to walk out. Or it may be that you don't value that friendship enough. And so therefore, as a result, the friendship just sort of disintegrates and they go their way and you go your way.
You don't necessarily decide to do it. It just sort of happens. But it happens for some very specific reasons. And what I want to talk about in this message is simply this. I want to talk about the problems we have in our friendship. Problems we have in our relationship. And I want to talk about troubled friendships. I want you to turn to just one verse in the Bible for the simple reason that there are many verses we could talk about. And I just want you to look, if you will, in the sixteenth chapter of the Proverbs and the twenty eighth verse.
And notice what he says. A perverse man spreads strife and a slanderer separates intimate friends. And so oftentimes we develop friendships that don't last. We intend for them to last, but they don't.
And there are some very, very specific reasons why they do not last. Now, how do you damage this relationship, this fellowship, this friendship? How do you damage that? Well, let's think about how you damage it. And we damage it in ways that probably we don't even realize. And the first way we damage it is this. Selfishness.
You see, if you really want to decide whether you love somebody or not, ask yourself the question, am I asking most of the time what they can do for me, how they can meet my needs, or am I primarily interested in how I can meet their need and make them happy and cause them to have joy and help them in their relationship with the Lord, all with other people? So selfishness, you want to damage your relationship, you add that. Secondly, is manipulation. Manipulation is simply another word for control.
And a person who is trying to control the other person all the time, you can't build, listen, that will damage a friendship as much as anything. Nobody likes to be manipulated, controlled, underhandedly, backhandedly controlled. Now, people can control each other by manipulating them by finances, by belittling them, or they can manipulate them in other ways. You can manipulate people sexually, you can withhold sex from your marriage partner to manipulate them to do something for you, which is a cruel way to try to govern or control someone else's life.
There are lots and lots of ways you can manipulate someone. It damages a relationship. Then, of course, there is jealousy. You want to damage your friendship? Jealousy says, I'm going to hold tight to what's mine and I don't want anything to look like it's going to intrude. Well, now, if you love someone and you have a genuine friendship, we're not talking about marriage partners now. We're talking about just genuine, close, intimate friends, another kind of friends. And so if you're the kind of person who cannot stand anybody to even look like they're going to be a friend to your friend, that will absolutely ultimately destroy a relationship and a friendship. So jealousy does not work. It's very damaging.
Then there's criticism. You want to destroy a friendship? Then you set your antennas out to find everything you can that displeases you and the other person, the way they dress, the way they look, the way they talk. You look for the ways that they don't live up to your expectation.
In other words, you know what? You want to destroy a friendship, you just get in that critical mode and this doesn't work and I'm not pleased with that and you criticize them for this one. You know what happens after a while? They walk away. You know why?
Because they can't handle it. Here's the way you can tell whether criticism is good or not. Now listen carefully.
Listen, say amen. The criticism is right when it hurts you far more deeply to be critical of something he or she did or said or their attitude than it does. In other words, it hurts you more than it hurts them. When it's just something that you just don't like, it may be that you need to think about whether it's even worth saying. And you see, we all have to let some things pass.
If you've got to criticize everything you see in a person that doesn't suit you, you'll never have any friends. Just let it pass. What difference does it make?
Ask yourself the question, is that significant or is it insignificant? Does that just happen once or is this a habit? If it's a habit, then let's deal with it. But if it's just something that you don't particularly like, criticism will absolutely destroy a relationship. Then explosions. Usually when people explode and they've got all this pent up anger that has been built up week after week and month after month or year after year, whatever it might be, maybe they don't even realize what's going on, but they just explode. Here's the tragedy. Sometimes they will do something that they can't undo. Sometimes they may say something that is so painful and so absolutely penetrating and devastating to the other person's sense of self-esteem or self-worth. They can't get over it. They just can't get over it. Many friendships have been destroyed by people who just explode and wipe out everybody around them.
We have to be able to control what we think. And the best thing to do is don't let it go on. Then there is also this whole idea of disloyalty. Somebody says to your face, oh, you're my friend.
I love you. And next thing you know they're behind your back talking about you. Leaving little innuendos, implying things that other people can infer that it means one thing and something other than you mean. Disloyalty is disheartening. It's terrible.
It's destructive. It reaches down to your heart because here's a person that you thought really and truly were loyal, a person that was loyal to you. And they aren't. Then there is just absolute pure dishonesty. And that is you can't trust them. You can't have a relationship with somebody you don't trust.
It just doesn't work. You have to trust them. People make mistakes.
If they're willing to face it, yes, you're absolutely right. I told a lie. I was weak at that point or I was afraid or whatever it might be. At least deal with it. Admit it. Confess it. Repent of it. Say, you know, please forgive me.
You know, help me to understand. You know, or it may be that you didn't intend to say something, but you did. But when it's intended, that's dishonesty. It'll destroy a relationship.
Last word is one that we don't usually think about. And that's business. You want to destroy a relationship? Don't ever meet. Don't ever talk.
It won't work. Business that neglects my friendship. It doesn't have time for relationship. I don't have time to talk. I don't have time to go out to eat with you. I don't have time to sit down and talk.
I don't have time to listen. You can't have relationship without time. And too busy will destroy that relationship. Now let's say, for example, that you've damaged a relationship that you really and truly value. How do you retrieve it? How do you heal it? How do you get it back together? How do you get the pieces back together? How is there healing and retrieving and rescuing this hindered, broken, hurtful relationship that you really and truly cherish?
How do you get it back together? Well, the first thing you do is this. You address it. You say to your friend, you know, there's something in our relationship that's not right. Maybe something I did or maybe I misunderstood.
But I think we have a problem, and I would like for us to at least face it and deal with it, and I'm willing to do that. The second thing you do is determine what happened. What happened in this relationship? What was said? What was understood or misunderstood? What did I do? What did he do or she do?
That is, you determine what is it, where and when did it, what made it get off track when it was going so well? The third thing is this. Apologize. You say, suppose it's not my fault.
That's not even an issue. Because it, listen, if the friendship is worth saving, it's worth assuming responsibility, whatever responsibility you had. Maybe you say it was totally his or her fault.
Let me ask you a question. If you love somebody and really and truly love somebody, does it make any difference whose fault it is? Not really. If you want to amend it, you assume responsibility.
Very important. You say, you know what, I want to apologize because I must have done something that caused this to happen. Now, if it's something the other person didn't, it wasn't your fault anyway? You're still winning.
What are you doing? You're assuming responsibility because what you're saying is this. This relationship and this friendship is so important to me, you know what, I'm willing to take the heat.
I'm willing to take the discipline. You say, you know what that is? You call it unconditional love.
That's what you call it. You're willing to take it no matter whether you deserve it or not, it's not the issue. And so you say to that person, I apologize, I'm very sorry. And the next thing you do to remember is you refuse to blame and you refuse to defend yourself. That person says, here's what you did.
I did not do anything of the sort. What's the goal? Is the goal to be right or to win the person? Is the goal to be right to save the relationship?
If I don't care anything about the relationship, I can say, you know what, you're blind as a bat. That's what you did. You're just projecting on me what you think.
That's not true at all. And you know what? This is the beginning of fellowships, relationships, friendships, and marriages that go down the drain. It's not my fault, it's your fault.
And on and on people go, what happened before long? They have so damaged their relationship, somebody walks away. So what you have to be willing to say is, you know what?
Whatever my part is or I want to apologize, and so you refuse to defend yourself. And then here's what you do. We're talking about saving a fellowship, relationship. You say, what can I do to repair this? What can I do? Tell me something that I can do to help in this relationship. Whatever it takes, I'm going to do that.
So you ask for a suggestion of how you can repair it. What do I need to do? And then the next thing you do is you make a commitment. You say, I'm committed to rebuilding this fellowship, this relationship, this friendship. I'm committed to rebuilding that. Whatever it takes, I'm willing to do it. Now, once you've come this far, I want to give you four questions that'd be good to ask yourself.
You really want to save this friendship. There are four questions that I'd like to suggest that you ask. Number one is this, and this is so very, very, very important. I want to ask you, are you listening? Say, amen. Amen.
All right, here's what you, here's the first question. Am I projecting on my friend something that happened in my past? Let's say, back in your past somewhere, you were deeply, deeply hurt. And maybe it was some woman in your life or maybe some friendship, relationship that someone you deeply, deeply loved. And they betrayed you. They were disloyal to you.
They were dishonest with you. And they walked away when you thought that person was one of the dearest friends you could possibly have. Now, what does a person naturally normally do? They start building their defenses.
And they build defenses so it cannot happen again. So, therefore, someone comes along and you begin to be a little close to that person and you begin to feel it. And so, next thing you know, you're being critical of something the other person's life.
And it's very real to you, very real. What you don't realize is this, because the past hurts. You are taking your past emotional experiences and projecting it on the other person, not even realizing that you are blaming them for something that somebody else did to you years and years and years ago. That is so common and so destructive, it's absolutely amazing. When you project on a friend something out of your past, something deep down inside it, you may have been hurt.
It may could be one of many things. And what happens is you're going to destroy that friendship. If you want to retrieve that friendship, you've got to lay down the past. A second question you need to ask yourself is this, am I just too fearful to have a close relationship with anybody? In other words, is the problem in my friendship the fact that that person's getting too close and I'm a little bit uncomfortable with, in other words, I've got a hell of a lot of space.
Give me room. Now, it's one thing to smother somebody and to be possessive of them. You don't want to be smothering.
But is the truth that when that person begins to become close to you, something inside of you, you don't even know what it is, something inside of you just raises right up or you pull right and anything. I can't handle this. And what is you can't handle? I just can't handle it. What it is is you have this defense mechanism up because you're afraid to have an intimate relationship with somebody else because you've been hurt and you said you would never be hurt again no matter what. Let me say one word to you.
And this is something that's been said probably a thousand years, but it's true. It is a whole lot better to have loved and lose it than never to have loved at all. It's better to have a great friend and lose them than never to have had a friendship at all. If you're one of those persons who is so dead set on not being hurt in life, you're in for a lot of disappointments because you're going to get hurt over and over and over and over again. The only difference between you and somebody who has a dear friend, they've got somebody to share their hurt with and you've got to stuff it. You've got to keep it to yourself.
You don't have anybody you can talk to about it. So you have to ask yourself the question, is my problem in my friendship the fact that I'm really fearful, too fearful to have a close intimate relationship? Now the same thing can be true of men and women. So sometimes women have probably more intimate relationships than men and somehow, you know, men are just, don't want to say too much, it's just macho, strong, you know what, none of that's scriptural. There's nothing to that except that it'll damage your relationships.
Then there's another question you need to ask. Do I have unreal expectations of this relationship? Am I expecting more than this person's able to give? Listen, there's some people who have an enormous amount to give. They know how to love and they know how to express it. They know how to be happy and peaceful and contented in life. They know how to give of themselves and some people don't. Listen, not only do they not give of themselves, they don't even know how. They don't even know how to love you.
They don't have it on the inside. They don't have the capacity to love. So if you understand that, then you build that relationship and here's what that means. You're going to have to give more. You're going to have to do more. You're going to have to probably forgive more because they're not there yet. But if you value that relationship, you'll do whatever's necessary to save it. One last question.
There are many questions but one last I'll mention. Are these feelings of rejection in my friendship because he or she is rejecting me or is it because I have such a poor sense of self-esteem and poor sense of self-worth, I don't think I really deserve acceptance and I don't deserve this kind of friendship and I don't deserve that kind of love. I don't deserve this kind of relationship. I don't deserve this kind of intimacy. And what you're doing is you are feeling rejected not because they rejected you. You just don't feel worthy of somebody just pouring out love on you and loving you and with an abundance of love because that's their person. That's the way they know how to love and yet you don't. You can heal a damaged relationship if you want to, if you choose to. If you try to.
If you're persistent of it. One last thing I'd say is this. Ask God to show you how to help your friend become a godly person. If you ask God to help your friend become a godly person, God will work in your life in the most awesome fashion to help you strengthen, heal, recover, and rescue.
What will turn out more than likely to be a wonderful, intimate, loving relationship that you'll be glad you didn't lose. Thank you for listening to Part 2 of Troubled Friendships. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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