Love must be sincere…’ Rom 12:9
‘How do you expect me to feel with you saying that to me? You’re being judgmental!’
‘Papa Gee’ and I had been friends for over a decade. We exchanged visits and had followed each other’s progress from humble beginnings. Like me, he met his wife ‘back in them days’.
Unfortunately, they weren’t managing abundance well and to my surprise, the marriage was shaking partly because they were living well above their means. My wife and I tried to make them see reason with little success. After several months, his wife called me to talk to my friend as he was no longer attending Church or meeting with brethren.
When I saw that all my sweet friendly banter to persuade him was not working; I opted to go for broke. My calculation was that, as we had been friends for over a decade, he would understand that if I told him his refusal to fellowship with the Body of Christ would lead to apostasy, it was because I loved him and wanted us to be in heaven together.
My calculation backfired; he blurted out his concern that I was being judgmental. Well, I thought to myself. This might be the end of the friendship so I might as well fire at will.
‘Man-of- God’ I began. ‘Many times at work I see patients with health conditions caused by lifestyle choices. Would you expect me to tell them to continue their harmful choices just because they would be offended if I told them the truth?’
I believe there is a difference between what someone wants to hear and what needs to be said. No one would expect a physician to advise a patient to keep taking as much ice cream as possible, when the blood sugar is so high that insulin injections are required. Who would like a cancer specialist to say ‘here take some vitamins; they taste better than the cancer medications’.
In our daily lives, we often deny our friends the truth just because we do not want to cause offence. I believe we miss one major aspect of true friendship- to ‘sharpen the countenance’ (Proverbs 27:17). As the adage goes; ‘your friend is the person who can tell you when you have a mouth odour’.
Till now, Papa Gee and I do not relate friends. We do have the odd phone call but that day was the beginning of the end. I still pray for him to be restored to the joy of his salvation and it hurts me that the friendly banter died that day. At least I had that one difficult conversation that afforded me a clear conscience for the future.
TNT Spiritual Usi Oboh