Most of us can easily imagine this situation. You find out that a friend at church has done something that you think Christians should avoid. You’re concerned, but you’re not sure what to do. You don’t want to appear judgemental, but you also think what your friend is doing is destructive. Do you have that tough conversation?
Our sermon series in Revelation has reminded us that Jesus is concerned for the holiness of his people. The churches in Pergamum and Thyatira were warned against being tolerant of sin in their midst. Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul says Christians are to speak the truth in love to one another (Eph. 4:15). We need one another to grow into spiritual maturity.
Given tough conversations are often necessary, here are some thoughts on how to have them.
First, check your motives. Ask yourself whether you’re being motivated by the person’s well-being. You may need to speak confidentially with someone else to check that your understanding of the situation is guided by the Bible, and to seek advice on the how you should approach the conversation. A hard conversation should never be a hasty conversation.
Second, ask God to give you wisdom and graciousness as you speak to your friend. Pray that God would give you both humility and a readiness to live under God’s truth.
Third, speak the truth in a loving way. When you tell people the truth but you’re abrasive, argumentative, cold and unloving, the other person isn’t going to listen to the truth. That person is going to harden their heart. When you speak, affirm what your friend is doing well. Use God’s word to show your concern about your friend’s actions. Ask your friend about the reasons for their actions and solutions for the way forward in walking in obedience to Jesus. It may also be an opportunity for you to acknowledge something you’ve done to contribute to the problem.
Fourth, offer hope. Remind your friend that we’re all sinners saved by grace. Jesus always offers forgiveness to those who repent.
A word to those of us who are on the receiving end of one of these conversations. Yes, it’s hard, but seek to look past the hurt or offense that you may feel to find the truth in what’s being spoken to you. Growth and spiritual maturity come as we seek to submit humbly and joyfully to Jesus’ rule.