Monday, September 19

The Measure of a Friend

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. --Proverbs 27:6

Tolerance seems to be the buzzword of the day. People walk on eggshells, afraid to call sin by its rightful name lest they be considered intolerant. Instead of admonishing one another in love, we turn a blind eye to things that are gravely amiss because we are afraid of hurting someone's feelings. This is cowardice. Furthermore, it is a misapplication of Matthew 7:1 which says "do not judge, or you too will be judged." As Christ's followers we are called to speak the truth in love whether it is amongst ourselves or our neighbors at large. The measure of a friend is not in how tolerant we are, but in our authenticity. To quote a line from the film Moulin Rouge, we need to be willing to "hurt [them] to save [them]."

Personally, I have experiences difficultly in finding the courage to wound someone in order to save them, especially when it is a person I am close to. I find it much easier to be bold about my faith and convictions around people who aren't Christians. Perhaps this is because I'm not risking anything when I do that. I'm not putting my ego on the line when I'm talking to people I don't know very well. For strangers to hate me because of my beliefs doesn't carry nearly the same weight as being hated by a family member or so-called friend.

Recently God put it on my heart to address a friend about what may have been a non-Biblical belief. Because this friend is a relatively new Christian, I was worried that I might alienate her with such a strong admonition. Because I value her as a friend, I didn't want to do anything to jeopardize the relationship. Swallowing my own fears, I wrote to her and explained my position. Imagine my relief when I read these words in her reply:

"...but I just appreciate you so much for getting the courage to confront me on a possibility of wrong beliefs!! You are the definition of a true friend, and I know that you will always look out for me."

Not everyone will respond in the way my friend did. When confronting sin, more often than not people will react negatively. They bristle at the suggestion that they are in any way doing something wrong or immoral. This type of response is the reality we need to expect and accept. I'm not suggesting that Christians should go around pointing out every little flaw in other people's lifestyles. Certainly we ourselves could never stand up to such scrutiny since we too are a far cry from perfection. However, in matters of salvation, as true friends we must be willing to hurt someone for their own good. We need to hurt them to save them, but lovingly and without arrogance.

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