"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partakers with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light.
There are few things in life more enjoyable than time spent with girlfriends, discussing big things and little things; exchanging dinner ideas and marriage advice, talking about our split ends and our biggest dreams, making plans to work out together and to pray for each other. Conversations run deep and genuine. Sometimes our chats stay light and fluffy. Both are valuable, nourishing to the spirit of true friendship. We leave those coffee shops or kitchen tables feeling encouraged and loved, bonded and trusted.
But what do we do when those conversations turn to gossip and slander? How do we resist the urge to join in when our friends’ words are empty; full of anger or bitterness? The world around us would say that we should just join in and make our friend feel heard and loved, agreeing with her because if she’s angry with someone, we are angry with that person, too! That’s friendship!
But that’s not what scripture is telling us to do in Ephesians. In fact, it’s telling us the opposite! Paul is instructing us to put bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander away from us! That means not accepting it from others and putting it into our own hearts. He goes on to say that we should not become partakers with them in these empty words.
But surely this is not telling me to ditch every one of my precious girlfriends at the first sign of gossip. As we read through these instructions, we can see that we are to avoid the sin of the world, but also we are to be tenderhearted, forgiving, and walk as children of the light. Oh, what good and beautiful friends we are called to be! When a friend of ours is struggling with bitterness or anger with someone in their life, we are to be an encouragement to that friend, lifting them up, shining light on their hurt heart and encouraging them to find forgiveness, even helping them determine boundaries in their own relationships to avoid being hurt and slandered. When a conversation begins to turn into gossip, we are to shine the light of truth on it and be quick to change the subject or if need be, express a desire to not discuss another person’s struggles, protecting our own hearts from sin, as well as our friends’.
This week, I want to love my friends well. I want to share and encourage and love and protect. I want to be obedient to God’s Word in my friendships and then I want to soak in the joy that He pours into those relationships because He designed us to love one another well.