Imagine you’re meeting up with a friend for lunch, and you know you’re about to have a hard conversation. You just saw on Instagram that she and her longtime boyfriend are moving in together. You don’t know what to say to her about it, and you have to decide if confronting your friend about it is a good idea.
What’s the problem?
Nowadays this is unquestionably a very common occurrence. Your friend isn’t out of the ordinary in the least. The problem in this situation, however, is…you’re a Christian. And so is your friend.
The Bible doesn’t call us to be normal. For those of us who call ourselves Christians, there is a set of standards laid out by the Bible that we are expected to live by. So what does that mean in situations like this?
What are your options?
There are multiple approaches that you could take after hearing your friend’s news.
Be happy for her and her newfound relational bliss. After all, if she’s happy, you’re happy, right? It’s her life, and you don’t want to judge her for living it differently than you live yours.
Or maybe right from the start you’re not exactly happy for her. Maybe you know that what she is doing is a sin, and that means it’s inherently not good for her. God wants the absolute best for us, which is why He gave us the guidelines we find in the Bible.
But, that being said, you know that your friend is not at the same place in her Christian walk as you, and you don’t want to upset her. If you point out her sin then she will feel judged and offended, which could damage your friendship. So in the end, you might decide it’s really not your business and confronting your friend is a bad idea. In this case you keep quiet.
If, however, you really do want what is best for your friend then neither of these responses is acceptable. It may go against your natural inclinations, but the only right way forward, simply put, is confronting your friend on her sin.
Before I go on let me take a moment to make a clarification. There is a big difference between your Christian friend who claims to follow Christ doing something of this nature and an unbelieving friend, and as such, you should temper your responses accordingly.
You shouldn’t ever condone sin in anyone’s life, but if you have an unbelieving friend engaging in behaviors contrary to the Bible then this can come as no surprise. Anyone outside of Christianity is following their own set of morals and standards that are likely going to be contrary to yours.
Living with a boyfriend is not your non-Christian friend’s ultimate problem—the problem is that her soul is not saved, and there is not a whole lot of point in confronting your friend and trying to address other issues without her first coming to know Christ.
How to proceed
Why is it loving to confront her?
Bringing it back to your Christian friend, let’s keep in mind that we are responsible to each other as brothers and sisters in the same spiritual family. If you see a sister stumbling and choose to let her keep stumbling without saying a word, simply to avoid an uncomfortable situation, then you need to consider how much you are actually caring for your friend’s well-being.
Galatians 6:1 says,
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.”
While it may feel uncomfortable to call your friend out—especially since there seem to be people all over the place who try to tell us that judging another person’s life choices is hateful—it is actually the most loving thing you can do for her. Why is it unloving to let your friend make her own decisions and keep your mouth shut? Well, Galatians 6:8 says,
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
Let’s also take a look at 1 John 3:4-9:
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.
No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.”
So according to these verses, if someone is sinning they will reap the consequences—namely, corruption—and someone who makes a practice of sinning does not abide in God but is actually of the devil. Is that really what you want for your friend? Of course not!
How to talk to her
Going back to Galatians 6:1, it is your job to address the issue with a spirit of gentleness. You could try something simple like, “I know you’re really excited this, but as a Christian, you really shouldn’t be moving in with your boyfriend.”
If by saying something you are able to turn her away from sinning then that is something to be glad over! If, however, you say this in a kind way and she gets offended then this will reveal where her heart is at with the Lord, and that isn’t something that you can change.
What if she doesn’t listen?
So let’s say your friend does not react well to you trying to correct her sin. Where do you go from there? Well, I will leave you with these verses, as I think they clearly lay out what our response should be to a Christian brother or sister who rejects correction. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 says,
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.'”
If your friend is living in sin then your only loving option is confronting your friend. Always be kind and gentle in your correction, but remember—as Christians we cannot abide with sin in our midst. Be strong, and do the hard thing so that you do not fall into sin as well. And if things feel difficult just remember Galatians 6:9, which says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
Have you ever confronted a friend about sin?