We mentioned in our last post how important it is to have encouraging friends. Without them, it is so much easier to fall into various temptations. Having someone on your side that knows you deeply, knows your struggles, and who is committed to helping you do what is best for your life is a priceless addition to your life. Just as important as having encouraging friends, it is important to be an encouraging friend. This sounds like a no brainer, but it isn’t always so easy.
When most of us think of encouragement, we think of someone who comes along side us with a bright smile, big hugs, or pats on the back and who cheerily motivates us and tells us everything will be alright. This is one aspect of being an encouraging friend; however, another side to being such a friend is when you have to lovingly confront the sin in your friends’ lives.
Perhaps you notice your close friend becoming too physically close to her boyfriend (or his girlfriend). You know how hard it is to remain sexually pure before marriage and it’s such an uncomfortable topic to discuss… so you would probably rather ignore it and ask God to deal with him or her. At the same time, you know how God views physical intimacy before marriage and you don’t want your friend to deeply regret his or her decision and have to deal with the consequences of that sin. At this point, it is easy to talk yourself out of confronting your friend… telling yourself that it is none of your business. However, the true encourager will confront that friend in love (not in a haughty manner) and encourage him or her to do what is right.
This can be hard because your friend may reject you. If he or she continues to reject you after several gentle attempts at correction, it is a good idea to put a little distance between you and him or her. If you have a friend who claims to be a Christian and is living in a manner you know does not please the Lord, you are putting yourself into his or her negative influence if you choose to spend a lot of time with that person. On the other hand, if you meet with your friend in private and he or she turns from the sin, apart from dying for them, you have shown them the greatest love a friend can show. Chances are they will return the favor when they see you struggling in some area in your life (Proverbs 27:17). Note that it is easiest when such admonishment comes from someone of the same sex as you.
The more people we are willing to encourage in the Lord, the more people will offer us similar encouragement. At times, we may not want it and such confrontation won’t feel like encouragement; but, the most priceless friend to us is the one that points us back to the path of righteousness, even when it is easier to simply validate us and ignore our sin.
Who has encouraged you? How did it bless your life? Remember that the wounds from a friend can be trusted, but our enemies are those that flatter us (Proverbs 27:6). Just because someone complements you and validates you does not mean he or she is a faithful friend. Faithful friends have to occasionally hurt you with the truth because they love you so much. Seek out these faithful friends in your life and thank them. In turn, take steps to become the encouraging friend Christ would have you to be. If you have a story of an exceptional friend, we’d love to hear about it! Feel free to comment below!
Who do you have in your life that could use your encouragement? Do you have friends in questionable relationships?