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 tempted. Galatians 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