Becca addresses such a real part of friendships today as she speaks about accountability and correction!
A friend loves at all times, even when it’s not comfortable. by Becca Mabry
Proverbs 17:17 tells us, “A friend loves at all times.” But, sometimes that love looks different in different seasons. It is often easy to confuse love with feelings of happiness and contentment. It is easy to feel and receive love when there is a lot of laughter, inside jokes, and affirmation. However, sometimes love has to come in the form of correction. Sometimes love is spurring on our friends towards holiness and purity. Sometimes love is prodding them, challenging them to face the sins in their lives. Sometimes love in friendship is actually kind of painful and uncomfortable, especially when it comes in the form of correction.
Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Our hearts often desire sinful things. Our friends’ hearts often desire sinful things. We need each other to keep our hearts in check. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” We need close friends, and we need to be a close friend. Close friends are those who know and see all of us; the good, the bad, and the ugly, and who stand beside us through it all. Nobody likes to be told “no” or that they are doing something wrong. But, how unloving would it be to allow someone you care for to go down a path that will hurt them, here on earth, and potentially for all of eternity? Romans 13:4 gives us a reality check, “But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” While our God is loving, He is also wrathful. When we see waywardness in our friends, we need to point them back to truth.
So how do we lovingly correct our friends?
Frist, go to scripture. Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Scripture is our test to assess if the things that we desire and pursue are things of God or if they are a result of our unregenerate flesh. Scripture gives us guidelines of purity and holiness that leads to the way of life.
Pray for boldness and meekness. We need boldness in confronting our friends, but we also need meekness and humility in our approach. God affirms in Psalm 25:9 that, “He teaches the humble His way.” And in Proverbs 3:34, He shows us how He responds to the heart of the proud and the heart of the humble. “He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble.” Before confronting those we love, we need to do a heart check to make sure we are approaching them in love, grace, and humility and fleeing from a heart of pride.
Pray for words to say. Ask for gentle words. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” It is our responsibility to restore, or correct, our friends. But, we must do so in a gentle way. Colossians 4:6 encourages, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Salt gives flavor. Make sure that your words don’t leave a bad taste in others’ mouths, but may your words leave a gracious flavor, one that they would want to savor. Salt also helps to prevent spoil. May the words that you speak to your friends preserve their soul in a world that seeks to taint it. I have hurt many people that I love, my very best friend included, and when I approached them out of love, but I did not do so gently. Pray for God to give you words to say. Pray for God to show you how to love them well by correcting them gently through your words. At times our hearts mean well but our mouths get us in trouble. In Exodus 4:11-12, God speaks to Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say." The same God who empowered Moses to speak to Pharaoh and the Hebrews, is the same God who lives and dwells within us. God desires to correct and comfort the hearts of our friends. He is faithful to give us the words to do so.
Pray for their heart and trust in God. Pray for the hearts of your friends to receive truth. Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” God’s Word does not return void. If we faithfully speak truth to our friends, we can expect God to do the rest.
Affirm their identity in Christ. As women, when someone tells us that something we DO is wrong, we often mistake it and incorrectly hear that WE are wrong. We must love and correct our friends, as well as be corrected by them, in a way to reaffirms their identity in Christ. Romans 8:1 declares, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Remind your friends that neither you, nor God, nor themselves, nor anyone can condemn them if they are in Christ. God, the Judge, sees Jesus’ righteousness, not our short comings. Reaffirm them that they are seen as spotless, blameless, holy, and pure by The Lord. Colossians 1:22 gives deep peace to my heart by saying, “But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” Don’t let your friends dwell in the false identity that sin tempts us to dwell in. Make sure they know that with repentance, all sin is gone, never to be seen again. In being confronted of our sins, we have a great opportunity to experience grace and mercy deeply. Romans 5:20 says, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Encourage your friends to accept and live under the overwhelming grace of God.
“Loving at all times” does not mean making others happy all the time. It means pointing them to eternity for the fullness of their joy and the glory of God.