What a difference a friend can make —particularly in your marriage! Have you ever thought about that? We probably all have friends that have made a difference in our lives by what they say and by what they do when they’re with us. Some don’t really act like friends by their toxic influence. And with those friendships, we need to beware!
The Bible warns us: “Do not be misled, ‘bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning. For there are some who are ignorant of God —I say this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:33-34)
Friends Can Make a Difference
But then there is the friend who acts like Jesus with skin on, who loves us in the manner of Christ. They live out the proverb, “A friend loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17) But lets take that a step further. What would you do about friends who see you doing something that’s hurting your marriage and they confront you on it? Would you embrace their motives and advice? Or would you push them away?
And what if you see your friend doing something harmful to their marriage? Are YOU the type of friend that would keep quiet? Or would you confront them about it?
The Bible tells us that the “wounds from a friend can be trusted. But an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:6) The footnote explanation for this verse in the Life Application Bible says something worth thinking about on this matter. It reads:
“Who would prefer a friend’s wounds to an enemy’s kisses? It would be anyone who considers the source. A friend who has your best interests at heart may have to give you unpleasant advice at times. But you know it is for your own good. An enemy, by contrast, may whisper sweet words and happily send you on your way to ruin. We tend to hear what we want to hear, even if an enemy is the only one who will say it. A friend’s advice, no matter how painful, is much better.”
We live in a time where the world teaches us to mind our own business —especially when it concerns a matter that can be awkward. And yet, is that really the way God has called us to live? Minding our own business might save us discomfort. But is that what Jesus did? Did He go about His life minding His own business? Was He hesitant to confront those who were living their lives contrary to how God would have them?
As we read the Bible, we see that Jesus was quite confrontational with those who claimed to love God and yet lived their lives in contrary ways. And He told others to follow His example. We are challenging you to do the same, as the Lord has challenged us concerning our friendships as well. We also have an article posted in the Assorted Marriage Issues topic, which goes into depth further on this matter. It’s titled Friendships and How They Influence a Marriage. You might find it helpful.
Concerning this matter, we urge you not to stay silent when you see married friends who are not living out their marriage vows. If you witness this happening to your friends, ask the Lord to show you how to lovingly confront them before further damage is done to their marriage and the Lord’s testimony.
“See to it that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:12-13)
Friends Support One Another
One of the definitions in the dictionary for the word “friend” is, “A person on the same side in a struggle —a supporter.” That’s what we strive to be in the lives of those God brings across our paths. And that’s what we pray you will be for those around you. As born-again Believers in Christ, we’re on the same side in the struggle against that, which is wrong. We’re not to be “nit-picky” about every little fault our friends have. But we also are not to stay silent about that, which is blatantly wrong and harmful. We’re to poke holes in darkness even when it brings discomfort.
We need to speak up to confront those who profess to be Christians who are dishonoring each other in their marriages. The Christian marriage is to be a visible, living example of the love of Christ in action with how we interact with each other. And if each one of us takes this mission seriously, those who don’t know Christ will be able to see the love of God all the more clearly. As Bible teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan said:
“Our job is to live so publicly —so front and center, that as people see us, they see God. God puts us in the world so that as they see us they say, ‘Your God must be something else! I want to know Him as you do’.”
Friends Become Involved
With this in mind, we’d like to share something written by Henry and Richard Blackaby. We pray that the Lord will speak to your hearts as He has ours on this subject of being a true friend to those around us. They write:
“We live in a world that teaches us to mind our own business. We try not to get involved in other people’s problems. Frankly, we tell ourselves it’s not our place. This attitude is completely opposite to what the Bible teaches. As Christians, we’re called to become involved in the lives of others, especially when we see someone headed for trouble. It’s actually our responsibility, when we see a fellow believer drifting toward sin, to warn that person of the dangers ahead.
“Sometimes we’re reluctant to say anything to others because we don’t want to offend them. We don’t want to act ‘holier than thou.’ Besides, if we point out the sins of others, they might point back at us and begin naming our sins!
“So often we say nothing and think that’s the most Christian thing to do. James argues, however, that when we help someone avoid the danger of sin, we’re saving that person from death! We need to check to see what’s happening in the lives of people around us. If our friends keep falling into sin and we keep minding our own business, we have failed as a Christian friend.
“Is there someone you need lovingly to warn of the danger ahead? Take courage. Regardless of the response you receive, speak up before it’s too late. Do so out of genuine concern for the well-being of your friend.”
The Bible says, “Whoever turns a sinner from his error will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20)
The footnote explanation for this verse in the Life Application Bible says this:
“Right living is the evidence and result of faith. The church must serve with compassion, speak lovingly and truthfully, live in obedience to God’s commands, and love one another. The body of believers ought to be an example of heaven on earth, drawing people to Christ through love for God and each other. If we truly believe God’s Word, we will live it day by day. God’s Word is not merely something we read or think about, but something we do. Belief, faith, and trust must have hands and feet —OURS!”
It’s our prayer that together we’ll make a positive difference in encouraging our friends and that we’ll “speak the truth in love” (as the Bible talks of) when it is needed. And as we do that, “we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:15-16). AMEN!
Steve and Cindy Wright
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