Speaking Truth to a Friend

post date: September 30, 2008

In response to my entry about how to deal with a sinning believer, someone asked a very good follow-up question: What do you do when your sinning friend asks why you have changed your behavior toward them?

Why won’t you hang out like you used to?
Why won’t you go to the ballgame with them like you used to?
Why won’t you IM jokes back and forth like you used to?

So what are we supposed to say to them?

First of all, it’s a good thing if your friend asks that question. If they are angry or hurt, that’s okay. At least it means your friendship matters to them. 

Second, you tell them the truth—that their sinful choices have changed the nature of your friendship. You tell them that you can’t pretend that nothing has changed. Of course, they won’t want to hear that, and they may say you are judgmental, etc. etc. etc.—so you say it gently and kindly if you can. But you say it nonetheless.

Third, remember that you aren’t the one with the issue here. For instance, if a close friend has an affair, you are fully justified in letting them know about your sorrow (and anger). And you will no doubt have plenty of conversations with them. But a time comes—sooner or later—when you will say to them, “Your choices are so unacceptable that while I will still be your friend, it cannot be as it was before.”

What happens then? The answer is, it depends, but it’s not your responsibility. You can only take care of what you say and do. How someone else responds is up to them.

What we need is tenacious, winsome courage to do the right thing.

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