“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Tim 1:5
We’ve all had friendship issues. Times when someone does or says something that hurts us. We all tend to respond according to our nature.
Some of us hide, some of us act like nothing is wrong and bury it, some of us lash out in kind, some of us confront.
Over the years the Lord has pushed me to re-think how I respond in these situations, and how can I walk in the power of the Spirit and the character of Jesus in my responses. This is the verse He has used to challenge me. When I don’t know what to do, I use this verse to guide me. Everything that scripture teaches us is so we can love, so we can be like Jesus – who IS love. If the goal of our instruction is love, then love MUST be the guide I follow.
So I always ask myself, “What would love dictate?”
This is not always easy to answer, usually because our view of love is distorted by the world in many ways.
- brought Jesus to the cross
- calls us to live sacrificially for others
- calls us to forgive
- calls us to a life of surrender to God
- shows the world we are disciples of Jesus
- is without hypocrisy
- is the fulfillment of the Law
- builds up
- never fails
The list goes on and on. But I think you get the point of how DIFFERENT true love is from the counterfeit that the world shows to us.
So, in a painful friendship/relationship where you have been hurt by another person and you are tempted to act “according to your nature”, think and pray:
in this situation, what is the MOST LOVING THING you can do for this person?
Sometimes, the most loving thing is to say nothing and pray. Sometimes, the most loving thing is to speak truth and not allow someone to continue to wallow in their sin against you. Sometimes, the most loving thing is to place “boundaries” in our lives…not for OUR self-preservation, but because it is the most loving thing FOR THE OTHER person.
Once you can forgive them in your heart (regardless of whether they asks for it or not), then your prayer should be, “Lord, what is the most loving response for this friend? Should I speak up and let them know how destructive their behavior is becoming and see if there is any way I can be a help to in the midst of their obvious struggle. OR should I forgive and forget and extend Your grace in this situation?”
But you need to realize that if you do bring it up, they may respond badly. Since love is your motivation, you need to ask the Lord to put a bubble of protection around your heart so you don’t take personally anything they might say. It’s not about you, it’s about loving your friend as Jesus loves you.
Confrontation is never easy…even for those of us who are more confrontational. We always doubt, we are fearful, we feel guilt. But when love is my guide, it is easier to take ME out of the equation and really concentrate on listening to the Holy Spirit show me what is the most loving thing for the OTHER person.
How has LOVE guided your actions toward others? How should it?
We have been studying forgiveness in church, and I just love this:
Once you can forgive them in your heart (regardless of whether they asks for it or not), then your prayer should be, “Lord, what is the most loving response for this friend?
That is like Step 2 to forgiveness! Thank you for opening up my heart and eyes today.
Praise the Lord, Stephanie! It’s always so great to hear how God is working His truth throughout His body!! I’d love to have you come back and share the things God teaches you through your study…what a great topic!
Where have I heard this before? Hehe
I love it when you post the wise words that have taUght me so much! Loving you.
I love you, sweetie!
ok, this is a real issue in my life at present, My dearest friend of 17 years, has had a change in her life and I supported her up to a point. I prayed and prayed over the situation; we had always been honest with each other to the point of being blunt sometimes in holding each other accountable. She and I have been through a LOT together, so there’s lots of history there. I approached her in love, and knew that whatever I said could not be in your face because she would go ballistic. When I first broached the subject she flashed back with you aren’t my mother, and it went downhill from there.I continued to attempt to reach her- not in a point my finger way (I went out of my way to soft pedal) she thanked me for my opinion saying most people wouldn’t care enough to even say something or would be afraid to approach her. I care about her and laid out what my concerns were and she admitted her behavior but said to me that she felt like it was a provision from God, took my breath away. she said our friendship was stronger than this issue. But, needless to say, it hasn’t been. I almost understand what a divorce must feel like to the one who was left. I have no hard feelings, I’m just concerned for her choices and where they eventually will take her. and I’m sad.
Nancy, I’m so sorry for this path your friendship is taking. Sometimes it is just so hard…particularly if we feel the other person is in unrepentant sin. But it IS important to look and see if it is truly sin or just a difference in convictions. I may have very strong convictions in one area that others do not. In those situations, I need to give liberty and trust the Holy Spirit in their lives to work His best in them.
If it IS a real sin issue, all we can do is share truth and the Word of God with them. If they refuse to listen, we may need to pull back and just pray – pray that the Holy Spirit would break down their defenses and drop the scales of deception from their eyes and repent.
Praying that the Lord will work out the situations and choices to renew your friendship and unity in truth and love.
Kate, nope. Deliberate, knowing sin. This lady had a much stronger witness than I could ever have. Her life has been tumultuous, sad, happy, rocky, burdened; yet, she had a very strong witness and many sought her advice in our community; and unbeknownst to her looked up to her for her witness. She has walked into this situation with her eyes wide open and has acknowledged it and says she is not sorry, not one bit. she is in rebellion, and started down this path in small ways over the past 5 years, but nothing that I was really concerned about- though I did flat out tell her that her behavior then was just rebellion- until this past year. Has nothing to do with conviction or no conviction. Unfortunately, I’ve seen her single handedly destroy her witness and choose to do the very thing that not only drove her to make the initial change in her life, but it’s the one thing that she had continually cautioned her children about. I am sad for the day when the consequences will arrive, I am praying that God will irrevocably show her the truth of her choice. What it has shown me is that even the smallest decision to move out of the center of God’s Will can lead to the slippery slope of more sin. What’s funny is I didn’t pull away, she did.
What a heartbreak. This type of situation doesn’t start with, “I think I’ll jump into sin that will ruin my testimony today.” It starts with small compromises all along the way. And I can see that she would pull away from you. Seeing your faithful following of Jesus is a major conviction to her. Her mouth and choice says she’s perfectly happy with her decision, but the Spirit within her is bringing conviction daily. So she must pull away from anyone who sparks the Spirit to rise up loudly in her heart.
Praying for her eyes to be opened and her will to yield to the conviction of the Lord in her heart.
Hello Sis first I want to say how are you doing these days? I have been so busy that I can’t keep up with commenting on blogs and yours I always want to comment, I even had it sent to me through Google and I haven’t gotten no email to let me know of your latest emails and for that I am sorry, please forgive me.
When I read your post on love I thought of how Jesus asked Peter do you love me and He asked him three times and Peter said Lord you know the answer.. This is so very true love can be displayed in so many ways and the Love that Jesus is talking about is to love people like we love ourselves and would be lay our lives down for others all because of love…Jesus is our perfect role model when it comes to anything we need to learn or know about being Christ like…AMEN
Well, you are so sweet! Last month I did Blogathon (a challenge to blog every day in the month of May) and I’m just emotionally recovering still and haven’t been able to get to read all the blogs I love so much (yours included) so I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND!!
Amen, sister!! And you and your husband have a BLESSED time on your special vacation!!
This is a timely post for me. Just today, I was seeking guidance from a wise and godly woman regarding a friendship of mine that has turned toxic. It is complicated and sad. Thank you for your words:)
Mandy, I’m sorry but I missed your comment until today. I’m praising the Lord if He was able to give you comfort and encouragement through this post. May the Lord speak to you through your godly friend and give you wise counsel in this relationship. Praying for you, dear!
Thank you, Kate. I was just talking tonight with my husband about friendship issues in my life. When I feel hurt, I tend to withdraw — totally the opposite of my very outgoing personality. Anyway, I feel there is a rip in one of my relationships, but it hasn’t been anything overt, and I sometimes feel like just talking to the person and opening the can of worms, but then I choose not to and just withdraw a little more from her. Anyway, your advice is wisdom. I think I was looking at it from my human/survival mode, but I need to be motivated to love my friend and that should dictate my actions. So that was a little nugget of wisdom to me tonight! Thank you, and thanks for linking up with me!
Praise the Lord!! I’m praying that God blesses you and restores your friendship fully. So blessed to link up with you!
Kate…wow…great (and humbling) post! When differences happen in relationships, its so easy to “react” than to stop and seek guidance from the Lord and then “respond”. Thank you for the reminder that we need to pray first and let the Lord lead our hearts and for sharing at WJIM. Your posts always encourage me.
Thank you, Naomi. I’m very humbled by your comment. Blessings to you, dear sister.
Kate, this is such a useful post! It is one which I would love to add to my list of favourite Blogger pages this week.
I hope you don’t mind.
P.S. Thank you for linking this post to Scripture Sunday this week… I believe it will be a really good help and blessing in the lives of anyone who reads it.
Thanks, Wendy, I’d be honored. Blessings to you!