How does your circle of friendships grow? It’s when the friendships you have are forged in the fire of testing.

You know when passions erupt? It feels like it’s going the wrong way. How surprising and delightful it is when friends are willing to press in for more. Even after strong words between us. If you get defensive, and make it about you, there’s a deeper sadness. When conflict points me and my friends back to God, there’s a purity of heart that can be seen, can be felt. And it’s contagious.

That’s why we swing open our doors to friends of our friends.

“And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart. And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter. My primary concern was not for the one who did the wrong or even the one wronged, but for you—that you would realize and act upon the deep, deep ties between us before God. That’s what happened—and we felt just great. And then, when we saw how Titus felt—his exuberance over your response—our joy doubled. It was wonderful to see how revived and refreshed he was by everything you did. If I went out on a limb in telling Titus how great I thought you were, you didn’t cut off that limb. As it turned out, I hadn’t exaggerated one bit. Titus saw for himself that everything I had said about you was true. He can’t quit talking about it, going over again and again the story of your prompt obedience, and the dignity and sensitivity of your hospitality. He was quite overwhelmed by it all! And I couldn’t be more pleased—I’m so confident and proud of you.”

2 Corinthians 7:11-13 MSG