Lets say, you have a young friend who is in the church, but has been making REALLY bad decisions. And at least from appearance, they are doing so with not a bit of remorse or thought or care. And this friend isn’t even open to being talked to about it or honest, if you try you will get either a laugh or a “it doesn’t matter”. And, you feel both angry and confused because a while ago they showed signs of faith growing, and also sad and scared for them. Whats the godliest way to handle this friend
The godliest way to handle your friend is to handle yourself.
I’m not being cute. Your desire to love on your friend is admirable and noble, but it will quickly become about control and results if your expectations escalate.
No one can ever, ever, ever make someone fall in love with Jesus. You already know that, but because the default mode of our heart is self-righteous pride, we make our influence more sovereign than God. This results in disappointment, frustration, anger, manipulation, pressure, and all around discomfort for both you and your friend.
Of course you have good motives, but they’re buried under a lot of religious standards. You want your friend to repent, to care, to be honest, but even if you held a gun at their head, what will that do? God wants your friend’s repentance more than you do and is endlessly more patient.
Last night I read these verses in 1 Timothy 1 and almost wept, because they described me perfectly:
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
If God has been so patient with us, we better be patient for our friends. Like uber-super ridiculous unreasonably supernaturally patient. That requires tons of prayer, self-examination, and preaching the Gospel to your face like you really mean it. If your friend acts out and you overreact, you better cut the root of your own pride or you’ll hurt the both of you.
Be there for your friend as a friend. Hang out, talk, have wide open arms, laugh together, be understanding, pray, speak the truth but love on them most of all. When your friend hits rock bottom at the end of their sin-season when their soul has been dried up and spent, they will come to you first.
That’s unless you’re the “I-told-you-so” guy, in which case they will go to some depraved source of info to further the sin-spiral. Love this person like God loved you: through every thick and thin, in spite of everything, never condoning but always compassionate.