Gentleness and Forgiveness

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What is a godly approach to confronting our friends?

Be patient and gentle 

There's gobs of evidence in Scripture that how we approach our friends with their sin is of great consequence to God and to our relationships. 

Second Timothy 2:24–25 says, "And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth."

Second Timothy 4:2 says, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction." 

Galatians 6:1–2 says, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

Ephesians 4:2–3 says, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." 

Colossians 3:12–13 says, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and early loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another." 

Forgive 

The rest of the above verse goes this way, "Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity" (Colossians 3:13–14). 

Once you've approached your friend about an issue, forgive her. Don't hold on to the hurt. Don't be angry or resentful. Forgive. 

But what if she keeps messing up?  

In Matthew 18:21–22 Jesus gives this answer to that question. "Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'"

God never gives us permission to ditch our friends because they are sinners. There are times when it is necessary to place boundaries in our friendships to protect our own hearts or steer clear of negative influences, but that's not the same as clinging to anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. Once you've confronted a friend, let it go. Forgive her. Tough to do? Definitely! But Christ is our model. Praise God He is so free to forgive. 

Being a truth speaker is often difficult business. No one likes to be called out on their sin, and our first reaction to conflict usually isn't pretty. But because of your love for your friends and your allegiance to God's truth, I encourage you to be open to the fact that sometimes tough discussions about sin are necessary. God never gives us permission to go around judging others, putting their lives under a magnifying glass or dishing out condemnation. But He does encourage us to hold each other accountable and to do so with gentleness and love. 

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