How do you respond when you hear about a friend’s sin? Are you more of a one-to-one helpful reconciler, or are you hesitant about offering forgiveness? Does what the transgression is affect how you react to your friend’s dilemma? Which friend do you need to talk to about such a situation today? How will you handle it? To whom are you in debt for having the courage to talk to you about something bad you were doing?
A good friend of mine came to me to discuss some choices he had made recently. We had been meeting in a small group of men and have walked through life together. Over the years, we have cultivated honesty and transparency and sought to live the admonition of James 5:16 to “confess your faults to one another and pray you may be healed.” Unknown to me, he had violated Scripture and felt he needed someone to help him extricate himself from the consequences of his actions. I was one of several he contacted for assistance because he said trusted me to handle the Scriptures and his situation with dignity and respect.
What a tremendous experience we have had. My friend acknowledged what he had done and admitted his discomfort, saying, “it is never easy to step into the light, especially when you know you have done wrong.” He added that he wanted to live his life according to Jesus’ teaching and it was time to right the wrong way he had been living. He said he had been with some friends from work who were not Christians, and made a decision he did not feel great about.
One thing he said was encouraging, but sad, “Thanks for listening to me and being willing to help me get out of the hole I am in. My other friends are talking about it, but not with me or to me. Their attitude is ‘look what we got him to do…’” I guess it is too convenient to talk behind someone’s back rather than deal with the messy stuff of life in a constructive manner.
Read Galatians 6:1-3.
I know it is never easy to confess, repent, and get back on track. It seems way too easy to confess your sins to a Holy God, and very difficult to do with your less-than-holy (when compared to God) Christian friends. I was impressed with the courage my friend showed in coming forward to ask for help. He risked a lot to approach a few of us to help him in a time of need, trusting we would not reject him from a sense of spiritual superiority or holier-than-thou judgment.
All of us have been on both ends of this challenging process. Either we were the one who needed to come forward in humility and confession, or we were the ones who should have confronted a friend who we know needed to get help for an action or attitude that was not worthy of a Christ-follower. It is apparent that allowing someone to dangle in the experience is not the most loving thing to do. It also slays your pride to have to admit you have sinned by talking about it to a flesh-and-blood person that you have to face. But that is why it is called “tough honesty.”
Step number one in Jesus’ instruction for dealing with your own or someone else’s sin is always to tackle it one to one (Matthew 18:15). The Bible does talk about confronting sin publicly – but only after repeated confrontations (v 16-17). The goal is to be restored to healthy relationships.
Live communally. Every Christian is responsible for his or her sin. We make matters worse when our treatment is worse than the disease. A true friend tells you what you need to hear.
Love is a verb,
©2013 by Mike Olejarz