You call your best friend and pour your heart out about a big event coming up in your life. When the big day comes, you don’t hear a word from her. Not a call. Not a text. Not an email. You feel ignored and unimportant.
The two of you used to do everything together. You were so much alike you joked that you were sisters separated at birth. But lately she’s just stopped calling. When you see her she acts totally weird.
It’s because you both love Jesus so much that you’ve become such great friends. You always sit together in youth group. You’ve done Bible studies together. You keep each other accountable. But lately she’s started seeing a boy in secret that her parents don’t approve of. She doesn’t want to talk about it with you, and you can tell her passion for Jesus is starting to fizzle.
I wish these were hypothetical scenarios, pulled from my imagination.
They are not. All of these situations have happened to me. In some cases, I was the girl who was wronged. In many, I was the girl hurting others. Whether you can see yourself in these exact stories or not, I’m sure you can think of situations in your life when friendships were strained. That’s because . . .
Relationships are messy.
Loving others like God means agreeing to get messy.
I love how Colleen Chao put it in this post on TrueWoman.com. (That’s our big sister blog!)
Until my late twenties, I thought agape love was synonymous with simple, harmonious relationships. Life experience has proven, however, that to love someone selflessly often means opening myself up to relational conflict, hurt, and disappointment.
That word agape comes from the Bible, and it describes selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. It’s the kind of love God calls us to have for others. Sometimes we think that God’s plan for love must be sweet and nice and easy. But agape love doesn’t work that way. Loving others like God means agreeing to get messy.
This can be especially true when we need to confront a friend. But God’s got our backs. He outlines very specific instructions for how to confront a friend in His Word. We’ll get to that soon, but before you confront a friend, here are four questions God’s Word urges us to ask.
Question 1: Am I angry?
Anger might be the first red flag that you’re not ready to confront your friend.
Proverbs 29:11 says it is foolish to give full vent to your anger but wise to stay under control. James 1:20 urges us to be slow to anger. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says that anger resides in the lap of fools.
Let me say it another way.
Just because you feel it, doesn’t mean you have to say it.
Perhaps there needs to be a bigger reason to confront your friend than simply that she made you mad.
Question 2: Am I judging?
Matthew 7:1–5 says, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye."
Before you run to your friend about the sin in her life, make sure you are judging her by God’s standards, not simply your own preferences.
Confronting our friends about sin is serious business. While we shouldn’t shy away from it, we also need to realize that we have a responsibility to deal with our own sin before confronting someone else about theirs.
Before you run to your friend about the sin in her life, make sure you are judging her by God’s standards, not simply your own preferences, and that you have been just as watchful for your own sin as you are for hers.
Question 3: Am I trying to win?
What’s your real motivation for confronting your friend? Do you want to prove that you’re right? Do you want to make her feel bad because she made you feel bad? Do you want to impress someone else?
Philippians 2:3–4 says, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."
The most important person in any potential confrontation is the other person. Instead of thinking about what you will get out of a conflict, the Bible urges you to think of the other person first. If you’re not ready to see it from her point of view, you’re not ready to confront.
Question 4: Do I love peace?
Romans 12:18 says, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."
I know what you’re thinking . . .
"But she . . ."
"But you don’t understand what’s going on . . ."
"But I’ve tried and she just won’t . . ."
God knew about our tendency to pass the buck, and that’s why He says, "So far as it depends on you." In other words, do your part to get along. Who should we live at peace with? All. Everyone. Even that friend who is hard to live at peace with.
Do you love peace or do you love drama? Do you do everything in your power to live at peace with everyone in your world or do you do things to contribute to conflict and chaos?
Before you confront, you need to spend some time asking God to help you love peace.
A Godly Girl’s Guide to Fighting
After you’ve wrestled with these questions, there may still be a need to confront your friend. Then what? God gives us a step-by-step guide for confrontation in Matthew 18:15–17. We’ll put that passage under the microscope in tomorrow’s post. Would you mind reading it today as homework?
In the meantime, tell me about a time when you confronted a friend. Looking back, did you ask these questions first? How would things have turned out differently if you had?
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Are you fighting mad at a friend? Here are four questions to answer before you go to her. (Be sure to include a link to today’s post.)