How to help a friend
When Paul encourages us to help our friends who have lost their way, he makes a good suggestion: 16… And sing, sing your hearts out to God!
And, if like us, he had the Old and the New Testament bound as one book, he would probably have written as follows: Use the Word of God, the Bible, to correct your friends. Sing praise …
I think about my friends and imagine them taking their hymn books and starting to sing to convey the message to their friends. I actually start laughing, because I know some of them are completely tone deaf. It would end up being a cacophony of sound and the real message would definitely get lost along the way. (And just for a laugh, see how the Dutch describe cacophony: Allemaal verschillende klanken die echt niet bij elkaar passen).
But this is a very serious message. It says in simple language: People, you must talk to your friends. You must take them back to the Word of God and help them to see where they are not living within the will of God. Then it’s not you who have an opinion about his or her conduct, but it’s God’s opinion. And suddenly the correcting has authority and power, because it’s not me saying it, but our heavenly Father.
Immediately I stop here, because we can be very judgmental and then we start pointing fingers. When you come with such an attitude or when the person being corrected experiences it as such, then we miss the point and will not be able to do what Paul is suggesting here.
Actually, we should ask how Jesus would’ve done it. Jesus would’ve focused on the other person and would’ve taken that person’s feelings into account. With love and care for that person, without judging, He would’ve taken that person by the hand and walked with them.
Each of us is responsible for helping one another not to lose the way. In love, we must take one another back to the Word of God, using it as a mirror. Then, we and they will be able to see where something is not right. But then we shouldn’t turn around and walk away, because now we need one another as friends on the road to recovery. It may be a little bit harder, because it means we have to give a part of ourselves.
But there’s more. If we need to use the Word of God to correct our friends, it assumes that we know the Word of God. We have to know where the truths are. We must know it ourselves and be able to apply it in our own lives.
Why don’t we concentrate more on the Word of God? It contains so many truths and help, not only for us, but also for the people around us.
Let’s make a decision now to spend more time with God’s Word. Let’s allow the Word to change us and to correct us and take us back to the right way, because then we will be equipped to help our friends.
Who do you have to help?
How can you help?
How can you bring in the Bible?
Father, thank you for friends. Thank you for the privilege to help them. But sometimes we feel so incompetent because we don’t know the Bible well enough. Today we again commit to a daily appointment with You and your Word. Amen.