It's a normal Friday night. Friends are eating together and hanging out. They are all believers and a close-knit group. They do a lot of life together.
It's a potluck kind of night. They are bringing hot wings, chips, dips and a variety of tasty appetizers. Everyone is upbeat, except one. One of the regulars is quiet and looks troubled. The elephant is in the room, but everyone looks away.
The evening continues with stories of the week. Friends sharing victories and struggles. Our troubled friend finds an open door and grabs the attention of everyone. Tears pour. Words hard to interpret roll off her lips. The room turns somber and friends gather around.
The troubled friend arrests the party, and everyone is taken hostage.
Do you have a friend like that? She continues. She explains her trauma. Her emotions are on full display. She calms down. Silent prayers begin. And then it happens. The worst is yet to come.
There is nothing wrong with a friend sharing their heart. Struggle and hardships are a normal part of life. And sharing struggles with good friends is healthy. But the advice is not always helpful.
Some Christians Are Know-it-alls
It's interesting that Christians believe they have the answers to all of life's problems. Several friends offer contrasting solutions to her dilemma.
Let's see if your friend showed up at the party.
- The "self-righteous" friend. The self-righteous friend wants to discover why this is happening. They say things like, "As you know, if you were living right, this could have been avoided." They continue, "You must have opened the door to the devil to come into your life."
The self-righteous friend makes it known that they would have never made the choice you made.
- The "cliche" friend. The cliche friend has obvious solutions. "Well, you just need to get over it." They continue with things such as, "I know the pain is real, but God is a healer. You need to let go of that pain and cast all your cares on God. You know God loves you, don't you?"
The cliche friend offers shallow answers and lacks empathy.
- The "fix-it" friend. The main concern of the "fix-it" friend is to fix your problem, at the expense of not acknowledging your struggle. The "fix-it" friend is not interested in your story. They will say things like, "That does not matter; skip the details. Let's sort this out. Here is precisely what you need to do."
The "fix-it" friend has the wrong approach to real problems.
- The "log in the eye" friend. The "log in the eye" friend sees others' problems but not their own.
He spoke a parable to them: "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not see the beam that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the beam that is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye" (Luke 6:39-42).
The Bible describes this friend as one who minimizes their own problem and maximizes their friends'. A not so great friend.
- The "Bible bruising" friend. This friend knows the Bible. Fact is, they know it so well they can hurt you. The friend who uses the Bible to condemn and belittle others is not the best of friends.
The "Bible bruising" friend listens to your confessions and condemns you.
Let's say you confess your failure of adultery.
The "Bible bruiser" reminds you: The adulterers' path is toward hell and descends to the chamber of death (see Prov. 7:27).
Wow, that hurt.
- The "compassionate" friend. This point seems out of place, but it's right on. The "compassionate" friend resembles a real friend but may not be. Human compassion can be a detriment to our spiritual growth and personal development. The compassionate friend soothes our current circumstances but delays our learning.
Compassionate friends can comfort, but God desires to use our failures to grow and mature us.
Compassion may make you feel better, but it can hinder you from being better.
A True Friend
The true friend listens well and is not afraid to share the truth.
"Therefore, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger" (James 1:19).
A true friend chooses their words.
"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you should answer everyone" (Col. 4:6).
A true friend brings correction.
"Open rebuke is better than secret love" (Prov. 27:5).
Christian friends should be the best friends you have. But that doesn't mean they all give great advice.
Friday night is coming, and friends are hanging out. What kind of friend will you be?
Thomas McDaniels is a pastor/writer and the guy behind thomasmcdaniels.com. He has written for ChurchLeaders.com and currently is a contributing writer for Fox News. He is also the Founder of LifeBridge.tv and the Longview Dream Center in Longview, Texas. Thomas can be found on social media on Instagram and Twitter.
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