Q. I have a friend who knows the Lord but is not living according to biblical standards. Without coming across as legalistically "holier than thou," what can I say or do? Or is it best to mind my own business?
–P.C., Orlando, Fla.
A. The truth is, the "business" of friendship is not only about encouragement and comfort, but also about urging others to "live lives worthy of God" (1 Thess. 2:12, NIV). When Paul wrote those words to an emerging leader, he was providing him with a model of how to truly care for people who are being less than who God says they are. Biblical standards were never meant for bludgeoning others into submission, but rather to point out the boundaries that define the extent of God's intention for their lives.
As a friend, you no doubt have already provided the groundwork for the urging he currently needs through repeated acts of encouragement and comfort. When you encouraged your friend, you were reminding him, "Yes you can!" even when he felt he couldn't. When you comforted him, you were reminding him, "Yes you will!" even when he wasn't sure he would get beyond his current challenge.
Now it is time, as a friend, to provide the urging and to prove that "wounds from a friend can be trusted" (Prov. 27:6). Why? Because someone needs to let him know that "Yes he must!" As bluntly put by one author, he must go through deep personal change or slow death ... there is no alternative. Your friendship is an invitation for him to live—truly live.
Besides, just think of all the promises and prodding in God's Word that would go silent if the only response to friends facing failure was our silence. Here's one that is particularly poignant for you to remember: "If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" (Ecc. 4:10).
Go to your friend, not as a judge, but as a friend—someone who is there to help him finish well.
Thank God your friend has a friend in you.
By: Dennis Easter, district supervisor of the Pacific Coast and Valleys District