(Originally posted on our former blog site on 3/28/2013)
Three friends decide to take a hiking trip. While at the top of the mountain two of them sit down for a quick breather while the third finally gets reception and makes a much anticipated phone call. She is a talker, but even more than that… she is a walking talker. You know those people that can’t really stand still when they are talking to you.
With the hand motions and the pacing back and forth... walking talkers.
She is so caught up in the moment and the conversation that she doesn’t realize that she is headed toward the cliff. The two friends (Sally and Jane we’ll call them to not get the story confused) notice what is happening. It isn’t so alarming at first but the closer she gets the more urgent it becomes. Sally decides to keep silent. Afraid to interrupt her seemingly very exciting conversation. She just sits there waiting for the worst to happen. If you think this is crazy then you would be more like Jane who sees that Sally has kept silent and decides to speak up. A little less alarmed at first until her warnings go unnoticed and her response turns to full blown panic. My question for you is- which has displayed the greater love?
Maybe it sounds absurd to think of a friend who would sit silently while watching someone they profess to care for walk off of the side of a mountain but we do it every day. As a fifteen year old girl dealing with many struggles of my own I turned to cutting to help ease my pain. Weeks went by until my mother noticed and all but drove me to a mental hospital but settled on counseling instead. I wish I could say that counseling helped me, that sharing all of my bottled up emotions made everything better, but I didn’t share and I wasn’t better. I started cutting my hips instead in an attempt to make my parents believe that I was ok again.
Days turned to weeks, and weeks to months. I am sure the cut marks were seen- sometimes I wonder if they were even talked about behind my back- but no one yelled out to me. I was walking toward a cliff and no one was yelling out to me. Finally two friends were concerned enough to tell a school counselor. I was LIVID. I hated them for “telling on me”.
I didn’t understand that this hurtful act of betrayal was really an expression of true love.
The bible says In James 1:14-15 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. We know sin to be many things. The bible tells us that sexual immorality, drunkenness, gossip, lying, murder, envy, homosexuality and many other things are sins. And as James tells us, if sin is allowed to grow (continually choosing to act on it in spite of what the Word teaches) then we are choosing death. We are walking towards a cliff- choosing death.
So again I ask, which shows the greater love?
The person who sits in silence as they pick up their friend night after night from yet another party filled with too much drinking?
The person who says nothing when a friend shares about how far she’s gone with her newest boyfriend (despite the obvious physical, emotional, and spiritual harm)?
The person who turns their head as their friend empties yet another bottle of anti-depressants and dismisses lunch for the fifth time this week?
Or the person who cares enough to look into their eyes and say that enough is enough?
Now don’t go all GI Jane on me and become the sin police. My pastor said it best, “Never invoke a personal prejudice and call it holiness”. Speak the truth IN LOVE, that’s what Ephesians 4:15 says to do. In LOVE. Not out of religious duty or out of a heart filled with anger, but out of compassion for the person who struggles deeply with this issue. Out of concern for the path that they are taking knowing full well that it will take them straight over the edge of a cliff. And out of love for their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
I do not mind being called out on areas that I may be failing in, as long as I can look into the eyes of the friend calling me out and know that it is done out of love. I look back on my two friends and thank God for them. I am where I am today because of them. You are reading this post right now because of them. We could all use a few more friends like that in our lives. The world has enough silent Sally’s; it’s time to be a Jane!
Galatians 6:1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
2 Timothy 2:22-26 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
Matthew 18:15-20 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”