I was talking with a friend the other day…

about loving well…. And what loving well looks like.

Our situations were quite different, yet there were parallels in our journeys of desiring God to teach us what loving well looks like lived out.

In each situation we were concerned about a Believer who was making choices that didn’t line up with God’s Word.

“How do I love well my friend in the midst of her choices to reside in sin?” This was the question each of us asked the Lord on our separate pilgrimages.

Do I ignore addressing the sin for fear of offending? Keep silent to avoid risking discomfort? Am I scared of losing a friend, and in my silence, actually voicing approval? “She knows her sin,” so do I show love by minding my own business? Do I say nothing and simply part ways, avoiding being uncomfortable at all?

Or does genuine love for my friend mean caring enough to intervene?

Since the Bible is the foundation for Believers’ actions, let’s take a look at what it says regarding loving well a fellow Christian who is in sin?

1) As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17 

  • Godly friendships have the purpose of sharpening each other.
  • Sharpen means to strengthen his judgment, enliven his affections, bring him to virtuous actions, make him a better man
  • Is my motive in going to my friend to point him to Christ? If not, don’t go.

2) Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.  James 5:19-20

  • Purpose of addressing sin is to turn a sinner from the error of his way, to bring about restoration.
  • Does my motive align with wanting to restore my friend to a right relationship with Christ and others?
  • Do I have any other motives that don’t line up with this – such as wanting to bring shame,to put him in his place, to retaliate, to make known his wrong, or a desire to publicly bring down or bring harm to him? If so, don’t speak up.

3) Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be temptedGalatians 6:1

  • “You who are spiritual” – those under the influence of the Holy Spirit are the ones to go. Abiding in Christ will result in timely words being spoken with gentleness for the purpose of restoration.
  • Do I have a spirit of superiority or a heart of comparison?
  • I am to go to my friend only when the condition of my heart is humble, gentle, and filled with genuine compassion and love for the purpose of restoration. If this is not the condition of my heart, I am not yet ready.

4) Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. Matthew 18:15

  • Go in private. This means I shouldn’t be discussing him/his sin with others nor should I plan to report back the results of my time with others? (This brings praise to me.)
  • Is the desire of my heart to preserve him and restore him to be a consistent Christian?
  • Are my actions with my brother confidential? Am I trustworthy of his heart? If not, don’t go.

5) Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. First, examine my own heart. Realize my sin is the size of a log in my eye vs the speck in his eye. Matt. 7:4-5

  • I can’t clearly see his situation with the right perspective until I’ve examined my own heart for sin.
  • This also enables us to go to our brother completely humble, with no other motive that to speak lovingly with the goal of restoration.
  • If I haven’t yet examined my heart, I’m not ready.

Loving well means going to our friend and addressing the sin. … privately, humbly, with gentleness, with the goal of restoration. That’s what a good friend does…

But few do.

We place more importance on ourselves and our comfort.

Loving well also means being yourself... So often we choose to NOT speak up, to not talk about the Lord around our friends to avoid the discomfort of revealing their sin.

A word of caution. Be careful that what you are calling sin is actually in the Bible. Standards and convictions will vary.

Friends, when we are abiding in the Holy Spirit, the fruit which is spilled onto others comes in the form of LOVE. To love well, we must first be in love with Christ.

The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

Rhonda theBiblesaysthesefriendsaretreasured ellis

‪#‎talkingwithafriend‬ ‪#‎lovewell‬ ‪#‎speakthetruthinlove‬

  1. I struggled with this for a while, because I have a friend, actually a couple of friends, who are doing things clearly against what God’s Word says to do. I prayed about it and prayed about it, because I knew that stepping unwisely could ruin a relationship between our Creator and this believer. As I waited and was a friend to these friends, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that my expectation of one certain believer and where her walk should be was completely out of line with where she really was. She is a babe in Christ and not the spiritually mature person I thought she was. So rather than confront her about her sin, our conversation as friends eventually made its way around to this sin and we were able to candidly talk about it. Not only did I grow through this process, but so did she.

    So what I’m trying to say is that this is process and not just a thing to jump into. Pray carefully and wait on the Lord to show you how to move.

    • Terri, Very true! Thank you for sharing about praying and waiting and not speaking until the Holy Spirit guided you to do so. I agree that so often, when we allow Him to be in control, He provides a situation in which conversations can happen naturally.

  2. Susan Richard

    LOVE this! Makes my heart overflow. In addition to Christian friends, I have many people I love dearly, who are not believers… my heart is so tender toward them. I would love to hear your thoughts on loving non-Christians well. Hugs2you! ~Susan

    • Hi Susan, genuine love for a nonbeliever also means caring enough to speak up to help them see and avoid ramifications from poor choices. Their reasoning for turning from wrong choices might not be because Scripture is shared since it isn’t the basis for their thinking and living. However, biblical principles are still a good foundation for all and can be shared without quoting verses.

      For example, You could say to your friend, “I know Sally’s hurt you, but forgiving her even when she doesn’t ask will keep you from allowing any bitterness to begin in your heart.”

      The same approach on our end, as mentioned in the blog, applies – being prayerful, making sure our motives are pure, with a heart of humility and compassion… and if possible, making it part of a conversation.

      This is how we love well. Most of all, loving them well means praying for their heart and soul and asking the Lord for opportunities to come alongside them and love them. 🙂

  3. Glenn Lassiter

    I lately accepted a “friend request” from someone who is around the same age as my children. This person has severed all ties with their christian parents and certainly doesn’t live a lifestyle that they would find acceptable. I cringe when I see some of the things that they post, but, on the other hand, I realize that they see when I “like” a post on “Cultivating A Home”, or when I share something of a spiritual nature, they see it. When I checked, they had read some of my blogs on salvation and the loss of a child. Sometimes we can only disciple and “love well” from afar and try to be consistent in our message. Make sure that adding that person to your daily prayer commitment is a priority!

    • Glenn, I am so grateful that you shared your insight. You are one of the most faithful prayer warriors I know, and I appreciate you saying how important it is that we pray. I am currently praying for one person in particular who I’ve not yet even met, that if it is the Lord’s will for me to have an opportunity to meet and talk, that He would provide that opportunity and that only what He leads my heart to share will be shared.. wanting simply to be loving and to love well and through that point to Christ.

      With all of the news right now about gays, my heart breaks as I know there are so many who are pushing their gay children away from them – thinking they’re doing right by sharing God’s Word, when what their children really need is prayer for their hearts to be drawn to Christ, and for their parents/loved ones to come alongside and love them where they are, and in so doing, demonstrate the love of Christ.

      Glenn, thanks for sharing about being consistent in our message, loving well from a distance, and making prayer for others a priority. 🙂

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