"And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and behold,
it was not toward him as before" (Genesis 31:2)
All of us at one time or another have felt the pain of broken relationships. We can recall the happy times when we once shared the delight of friendship and onesness of heart with someone dear. Now it is broken, the bond of fellowship shattered.
Jacob knew what that was like. He could see it on the face of Laban, his father-in-law. He no longer looked at him with a ready smile. It was obvious. Laban no longer loved Jacob the same way as before.
How often this occurs in marriages. David's wife Michal at one time loved him so much she would defy her own father to help him escape his wrath. But there would come a time when she would see him in another light and "despise him in her heart". (2 Samuel 6:16)
It is a sad thing to see love seemingly vanish into thin air! Sadly, even Christians suffer broken relationships, although many are seldom honest enough to admit they no longer love one another. Instead, we skillfully mask it over by a "gradual withdrawal" and let our former friendships dry up like a stream of water. We do it by less frequent visits or phone calls, or by avoiding one another with excuses that usually say, "Oh, I can't today, I have to.." or becoming increasingly involved with a "new interest".
The Bible exhorts us through many scriptures not to allow divisions and broken fellowships.
"Be of the same mind one toward another.."(Romans 12:16)
"Be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing
be done through strife or vainglory: but in lowlines of mind let each esteem other
better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on
the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.."(Phil 2)
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren,
be pitiful, be courteous, not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing" but
contrariwise blessing.."(1 Peter 3:8)
Paul went to great lengths to teach about this subject to the Corinthian church, that "all the members should have the same care one for another". If we are in a broken relationship, we are either the VICTIM or the INSTIGATOR. Onewithdraws himself, the other is cast aside. As a victim, we will feel wounded and grieved. We must be careful that we do not allow Satan to attack our thoughts. "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle". Proverbs 18:19)
How easy it is to feel self pity over rejection! Jesus spoke of it, "Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company..." Paul knew what that felt like. He wrote in 2 Timothy: "no man stood with me, but all men forsook me". But as he also added, "nothwithstanding, the Lord stood with me". Jesus never forsakes us! We must remain strong during such trials and not allow roots of bitterness to implant in us.
"A friend loveth at all times" (Proverbs 17:17) Not just when things are good, but in the bad and difficult times as well. We are to pray for those who despitefully use us, love them as always, for it is nothing hard to love those who loves us in return.
Suppose we ourselves have been guilty of breaking off the fellowship of another brother or sister? If we are Christ-like, we will begin to examine what happened to that strong love we once had. Did we turn our hearts away because we found a "replacement"? The Lord became angry with Solomon "because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel". He turned away from the Living God and gave his heart to other gods. We must never forget that to love God means we must love each other. Jesus put a far more stringent requirement upon us than Solomon ever experienced. He taught us that if we say we truly love and serve Him, we cannot be his servants unless we are serving one another in love.
"Then shall they also answer him saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.". (Matthew 25:44)
When Jesus washed the disciple's feet, he illustrated this point dramatically.
It would be hard to justify a calloused heart before God. We are "calloused" when we do not care enough to see broken relationships restored. No matter our claims to Christ, a good indication of our true spiritual condition would be to ask ourselves if we are grieved inside enough to do anything about it.
Mary E. Adams