This is a very good point. Sounds like you have a very wise friend.
I have a friend who started questioning things. He was hurt deeply by people in the church, betrayed by someone who was a close friend. But the more he questioned, the more the church turned their back on him until he left in frustration. He lived in rebellion against God for 3 years. He saw too many Christians who were judgmental and not taking the time to love him back to Christ. I was one of few Christians he would even talk to during that time. He did come back last year and is a different man today. He learned a lot during that time. He learned to be more patient with others and love them and talk to them if they had questions. He has a deeper faith now in Christ than ever before.
If we see someone going down the wrong path we do need to go to them and talk to them in love. There's a difference in talking to them in love and talking to them in judgment. We all want to be loved. We all want to feel like we have a purpose and are special. God does have a purpose for each and every one of us and He loves us so much we would never be able to grasp how deep and wide His love truly is.
The other danger is seeing someone go down the wrong path and doing or saying nothing. We need to pray first, pray for discernment and wisdom and that God would speak through us in love and show that to our brother or sister.
But we should always pray and ask God to remove that plank out of our own eye first. And then we need to be humble. It's humbling, because we all are human and have the capacity to sin, every one of us. It's also humbling to be the one who has had something pointed out to them. But that's the only way we can grow. We have to let go of pride, be humble and loving and focused on God above all else.
Just love them. We can't even do that without God's help, can we? But He gives generously when we ask. We have to just keep coming to Him and relying on Him. He will always help us.
Exactly. What she said has been on my mind a lot and I'm starting to think before I speak. Especially with arguing. It hit me that there are some things that I don't need to waste my time on because even though they may be little things to me, they could be bigger to someone else and it's not worth losing a friendship over.
I hate fighting too. You are very wise. This is a good one to remember.
It kind of reminds me of an experience of my friends..
During my friend Joanne's first year at university, she shared a house with four of our other friends, all Christians. Within a few weeks everyone began having problems with one of the girls, Lisa. Unlike the other girls, Lisa was a new Christian, and she wasn't easy to get along with. She was selfish, unreasonable, and made sarcastic comments that left the others feeling putdown.
One evening when Lisa was out of the house Joanne and her other three housemates called a conference. "We're all more mature Christians, and she's a new believer," they pointed out. "We can help her with this attitude problem. We're just going to love the bad attitude right out of her!" It sounded like a great plan. The four girls sealed their agreement with prayer. They were going to love Lisa until she changed her attitude. (They really said this.. lol)
So "Operation Love Lisa" began. lol Whenever Lisa behaved selfishly or made a cutting comment, the others went out of their way to be as sweet and cheerful as possible to her. No one told her that they had a problem with her critical attitude or self-centered ways. When Lisa borrowed things without permission and didn't return them, when she bad-mouthed one of the girls to another, when she played her music at the top volume while they studied, when she got angry and yelled at them - they simply tried to treat her as nicely as they possibly could.
The problem was, things didn't improve. Lisa continued to be a pain, while her housemates continued to treat her with Christian kindness - all the while complaining about her behind her back. Near the end of the school year Joanne went to hear a presentation by a Christian speaker. He talked about authenticity, about how important it was to be real and genuine with others. From his own experience he shared how he had discovered that he needed to tel other people they were hurting him. "Otherwise," he said, "they would never have known they mattered enough to have any influence on my life." His words brought Joanne to a shattering realization. For an entire year she'd acted as though nothing Lisa did mattered. She realized that she'd been making it seem to Lisa as though she had no impact on her life whatsoever. Joanne said later. "She knew she had been mean to me, and by putting up my 'Christian' front I'd given her only the impression that there was nothing she could do to hurt me, that her life was so irrelevant to me that I could handle complete tension in our relationship.
After all, if someone is totally irrelevant to us, if we don't care about them at all, it is fairly easy to ignore their rudeness and unkindness. That's all they were doing - ignoring it. Ignoring them. We can dress it up as "Christian love," like Joanne and her housemates did, but really all we're doing is editing that person out of our lives. Looking through or around them instead of straight at them. It's an easy way out, and if we can call it "love" we get the added bonus of feeling good about ourselves as Christians.
Real love is a lot harder. Real love means that everyone matters. You can't just ignore people or the things they do. Real love means caring enough about someone to be real with them. Jesus was real. The four Gospels give us a variety of portraits of Jesus - the gentle friend of children, the stern rebuker of Pharisees, the easygoing guy who hung out with sinners at their parties, the whip-wielding avenger clearing out the Temple, the compassionate teacher forgiving the woman caught in adultery. What we never see is Jesus putting up a front. Jesus being fake. Jesus pretending to be something He wasn't. He told people what He thought and what He felt. Every relationship mattered enough to Him to be real. And real relationships involve confrontation. Before we can say, "I forgive you," we sometimes have to say, "You hurt me." If the hurt isn't real, how can the forgiveness be real? And if our love is real, how can we stand to see the persons we love continue with destructive attitudes and behaviours?
David Augsburger wrote a powerful book called Caring Enough to Confront. In it he writes, "I love you. If I love you I must tell you the truth. I want your love. I want your truth. Love me enough to tell me the truth." Love me enough to tell me the truth. That's not easy. That's asking for a depth and honesty in our relationships that a lot of us don't want to get into - especially with the people we don't like, the people who make us uncomfortable. But what was it that Jesus said: "Love your enemies," or "Put on a smiley face and act nice to your enemies"?
Proverbs 27:6 tells us, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful". If you're my friend, I can handle your loving wounds - in fact, I need them in order to grow spiritually. Though it may hurt, I can deal with someone who really cares telling me, "You're way off track here. You need to deal with this problem in your life." What I can't learn from, what I can't grown from, is someone whose fake "kisses" - or smiles - show that they really couldn't care less about me. In Ephesians 4:15 Paul expresses his hope that as Christians "speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ". Speaking the truth in love. That's a high ideal to follow.
We tend to go off on one of two extremes with this caring enough to confront business - maybe depending on our personality types. Either we shrink from confrontation - and thus from real, honest relationships - and hide behind the "nice Christian" mask, or else we grab our flaming swords and stride into people's lives like avenging angels, ready to point out their every flaw and shortcoming. Paul has the answer. Speak the truth - in love. Truth without love is harsh and soul-crushing. Love without truth is fake. It's not an easy balance. We may spend a lifetime learning it. But if we're trying, if we're struggling toward that ideal in our relationships, we're going to grow. And we're going to help others grow. :)
WOOW THIS IS LONG! Sorry.. I hope it's clear though.
Oh and if your interested. Lisa, Joanne and the girls got the opportunity to talk - honestly before Lisa moved out of the end of the school year. They apologized for the insincerity in their relationship and to this day they feel bad that they weren't lovingly real. But they remain friends.
So my 2 questions are: Do you agree that honesty is an essential part of being a "grown up" Christian? and Are there times when dishonesty is justified in the name of Christian love?
Wow, this is really good!
I agree honesty is best and my best friend and I are comfortable enough we can tell the other if we've said a careless word or something that hurt the other. We can also tell the other person if we notice something that needs correcting, but do it in love. For instance, when she and her husband were going through a difficult time and he asked for a divorce, she resisted at first, then gave up. She found an old friend from high school who was recently divorced and began talking to him online. He was a Christian so she didn't see the red flags that I did. She enjoyed talking to him and felt like he appreciated her unlike her husband. I talked to her and warned her of what was happening. She still didn't see it right away. But God actually used that situation for good. Her husband opened her email one time and saw that they were talking and broke down before God in repentance and tears and realized what he was losing, his wife and kids, by being so selfish and wanting a divorce. He ripped up the divorce papers and begged her to give him another chance. She was hesitant at first because he had really hurt her but he set out to win her over. It took time for trust to be reastablished and she realized he was sincere. He asked her to stop talking to this other man and she agreed, realizing that it would only cause distrust, even though it hadn't gotten any further than talking.
Today, their marriage is the best it's ever been. God did a tremendous work in both of them. But it took time and building trust back up. They were still hurt for awhile and I would go over to their house so they could talk with someone who could keep them calm and help them see the other person's perspective. I tried to be fair, even though I was more friends with her, he still was my friend and I tried to point out things to her, like how she had hurt him, as well as the other.
We all need more friends like this, who care enough to be honest and help each other get back on the right path. I consider her a friend who would do that with me, just as I have with her.
That was good! Yes, honesty is very important. I think that for teenagers, especially at my school, it's a bit harder to handle. Usually everyone just attacks whomever, the whole flaming sword and stride... I think that instead of calling someone out in front everyone you should take the person aside and calmly explain in a loving way that there's a problem.
Yes that's what you need to do. You don't want to embarrass anyone because it does way more harm then good. Often people will just lash out if it's done openly and Jesus doesn't post our wrong-doing up for everyone to see, Jesus simply says "go and sin no more." So we have to be sensitive to that. We also should pray about it before going to the person, so that the persons heart may be soften when you approach them with certain matters. It's difficult but if we love people, then we will want to see them go in the right way.:)