Focal Passages: Proverbs 11:12-14; 17:17; 18:24; 27:5-6, 9-10, 17; 28:23; 29:10
The Bible says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born out of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). I believe many Christians today do not understand what it means to truly love someone. In our culture, we have confused love with acceptance – especially in the area of relationship. Our culture tells us that if we genuinely love someone we would be supportive of their lifestyle choices. That is not love at all if we believe those choices will lead to destructive behavior. Love is more than affirmation; it can also involve confrontation and isolation (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). Of course, no one wants trouble or hardship, but true love may demand it. Love is doing what is best for a person according to God’s Word, even if it brings adversity. Tragically, many denominations have also confused acceptance with love.
Many years ago I had the privilege to go to the Middle East for 26 days with other seminary students from various dominations. Many of the students from the other seminaries did not have a high view of scripture. Throughout our trip we had many lively discussions.
Although we did not agree on many things I naively thought we would agree on certain things. As I began talking to this future pastor, she told me that she and her boyfriend were living together. Evidently, her denomination (which was a mainline denomination) approved of this lifestyle. I’m sure she did not think I was a very loving person after our discussion, but that was not the case. I was very gentle in my response because I wanted God’s best for her and her fiance, and living together before marriage was not it. However, because I did not affirm her actions it was seen as unloving.
Giving others what they need is not the same as giving others what they want. A true friend will be honest with you and love you enough to tell you the truth. Sometimes that is very difficult, but with much prayer God will give you the wisdom and strength to stand strong and make a difference.