Let me paint you a picture, to illustrate today’s topic. You have a good friend who is completely tone deaf, they can’t hold a tune, but they really love to sing. Yes, we all know such a person, and if you don’t, then you may actually be that person. Let’s say that person comes to you and tells you that they’re going to go on X-Factor, or American Idol, or whatever other show you know of. What do you say? You see we are taught that if you agree with someone, you are being supportive. If you disagree, then you ‘don’t believe in the person’. This is complete nonsense, but we have somewhat come to believe this. How many times do we see people with massive dreams of becoming a singer, who have complete ‘support’ from their friends and family, get humiliated by some ruthless judge in front of the entire nation on TV? My question is simple, “Why hasn’t anyone stopped them before this?”.
Now let me be clear here, I am not talking about speaking negatively into someone’s life. I know that the Bible says that we are more than conquerors in Jesus, and we should have faith. I am not talking about people who try and scare you into not taking a chance. I am merely saying that just because someone disagrees with you, doesn’t mean that they don’t support you. So what am I talking about? I am talking about the times when we live our lives in a way that goes against scripture. Let me use an extreme example. If I were cheating on my wife, and one of my friends found out, what would they do? I would hope that they would call me out in no uncertain terms and tell me to stop. In fact, if one of them actually punched me in the face, I wouldn’t see it as an over-reaction. Now I am not condoning violence, but my point is simple, in supporting people sometimes we may have to disagree with them. People are sometimes going to do the wrong things, and a true friend will stop them. If you really love someone, sometimes you need to stand against their actions. Sometimes, supporting someone means stopping them from doing something stupid. As per the singing example, you stop them from the humiliation of being told the truth on live TV. With other more serious actions, sometimes the consequences could be 100 times worse, so we need to step in and tell people when they are making a bad choice.
I grew up in South Africa, but live in the UK, and I think that it is safe to say that English people often disagree with someone but very seldom tell them. The general ‘socially acceptable’ way here is to have a good moan about the fact that someone is doing something wrong, but don’t actually tell them because you don’t want to upset them. Now before you get upset, this is a gross generalisation, but the generalisation for South Africans is different. We are very quick to go and tell the person that they are wrong and that they should sort themselves out. This is also not the best way, as it is often not done in love, but more from a point of condemnation. I don’t know what the general trend is in the US, as I have never been there, but the bulk of people that read this blog are from the US so maybe you can comment and let me know.
Here is the bottom line. If we truly love and support our friends, we will tell them when they are doing something wrong and encourage them to do it right. We will not condemn, but we will not ignore their actions (or worse, encourage the wrong actions). We are called to hold each other accountable, that is not condemning. We hold each other accountable in order to build them up, the devil condemns in order to tear us down, there is a massive difference between the two. Encouraging people to stop doing what is wrong, is part of encouraging people to do what is right. We are called to do both of those things. So next time your friend opposes you in love, next time they challenge you on something that you are doing, don’t jump down their throat. Ask yourself, is there something that you need to change? Are they right? If they are, then maybe you need to listen to them. If they are not, they are still only trying to help, so go easy on them. Don’t accept negativity over your life, but don’t just disregard anyone who disagrees with you, there may be an important lesson lost.
Until next week.