Two months ago, I had dinner with a long time friend. While she thought it would just be two friends getting together to enjoy food and small talk, I freely admit I had ulterior motives going into this.
There were some things that had been eating away at me for a while and I had finally worked up the courage to follow the prodding of that little voice in the back of my mind telling me that something needed to be said. Whereas I will generally run away from any kind of confrontation, (especially any that does not directly involve me,) this time I was walking right towards it.
I’ve known her since elementary school. We used to be in the same Girl Scout troop, and went to the same schools all the way through High School. While we were not always the closest of friends, we were always able to talk to each other. After High School, as oftentimes happens, we lost track of each other for a number of years.
Over a year ago, she tracked me down on social media and we started talking again. Messages soon turned into texting which soon turned into regular phone conversations. We caught up on what we’d done in our lives since High School and where we were now, what was going on in our daily lives, and all the small stuff in between.
It wasn’t too long before she mentioned that in the intervening years she had come to be a follower of Jesus, sometimes went to a good Bible teaching church locally to her, and when she was in my city, attended a church that my husband and I had been attending for a while before falling away from it for, (among other reasons,) a lack of content.
Awesome! Someone else that I could talk Bible with and get a female’s perspective of different things on.
Several months ago, she ended up relocating to my city. It took a while, but I was finally able to get her to come out to check out the church that my husband and I had found in the interim; an honest to goodness Bible teaching church with some amazing people to boot. She was all smiles after as the three of us had lunch together, saying that she had enjoyed it and would “definitely come back again.”
Then she and a guy that she had been on-again off-again with, started talking again and soon, were ‘dating but not going to talk about it because that creates issues.’
Without going into all of the gory details, they were soon involved in a very dangerous relationship and soon essentially living together despite them both possessing their own apartment leases. Not surprisingly, she suddenly had no time for church. The amount we communicated dropped dramatically and it became clear that, in her mind, since she had a guy, everything was perfect and she neither needed anyone else, nor especially, God.
Therein lies where the feeling that came over me sprouted from concerning the need to talk to her.
As I mentioned before, I have been working my way through the Self-Confrontation course compiled by the Biblical Counseling Foundation for a while now. During the few weeks leading up to the eventful dinner, verses kept jumping out at me and bringing to my mind my friend. Eventually, I started writing these verses down on a note card. Before long, I had a list of more than twenty verses and could not shake the feeling that something had to be said. She professed to be a believer. She was currently living in a very un-biblical way, and I felt as though I would be remiss to allow her to continue down this path without trying to help her turn back to God and do things His way.
And before you cite the core verses of the course, Matthew 7:1-5 asking who am I to say anything about how she lives her life, let me assure you that I have been there, done that, bought and then burnt the shirt. I am not proud to admit it, but I have been where she is, and know too well the damage that comes from it. Thankfully, God was strong when I was weak and has helped me past it. Once I finally accepted that my attempts to run my life were in fact just ruining it and surrendered completely to His will, things began to fall into place. I soon realized that I may think I know what I want, but He has better than I could ever dream planned.
So anyway, I continually prayed about this impending dinner and studied the verses I had on my note card. It was clear there was a theme.
“But why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and not do the things which I say?
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We dwell come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him.
1 John 2:3-4
And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
1 John 3:22
They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
And the list goes on.
I had over 20 verses that I kept seeing over and over that did nothing more than bring her to mind.
So I tried as best I could to discuss with her that I was not judging either her or her boyfriend, but rather, doing my best to be a fruit inspector and that I felt there were several things that she should take a look at, pray about, and seriously consider. I started by mentioning to her the fruit of the spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
I explained the importance of the fact that the word is fruit, singular, not plural. That when the Spirit is present, all of those are as well. Not just one or two. And then I mentioned what she had told me about her relationship and how nothing pointed to any of the qualities of the fruit of the Spirit. What she had told me about were lusts, strife, arguments, self-seeking, and the list goes on.
I told her that I had been where she was. That I had thought I was doing fine running my life on my own, finding my own happiness, but that eventually I came to realize I wasn’t running it, but rather ruining it. I pointed out to her that it’s not always that you immediately get what you want, but that by following God’s commandments and serving Him, He does provide what you seek.
And whatever we ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
1 John 3:22
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
But of course, she didn’t want to hear any of this. So far as she was concerned, they were going to continue their relationship as they were regardless of what anyone else had to say about it.
I conceded that in the end, it was ultimately her choice and I could not change anything, but that I would have been remiss had I not spoken up, and that I would continue to pray for her.
She stated that they were going to proceed with their intents to purchase a house, (all on her credit,) and would likely at some point get married. She said that she was perfectly fine with her and her boyfriend seeking out their religious paths together and attempting to find their own way; that they didn’t need help.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
But by this point, it had become abundantly clear to me that she wanted nothing of what I had to say. I will, however, give her credit for at least attempting to make it look as though she was listening and containing her eye-rolling for the most part.
As we parted, she said several times that she was not mad at me, and that the way I had addressed her was okay because I had not come off as “preachy and judgmental” as she alleges someone else had done with her when addressing the same things. But I could see the truth. She was pissed. Maybe even livid with me. But walking in, I knew that this was the likely response. At one point, I had even addressed that with her stating that I knew what she was hearing was upsetting her but that in reality, she wasn’t mad at me but rather, mad at God.
So a few days ago was her birthday. I hadn’t spoken to her in any depth since that dinner, and part of me wanted to reach out to he and offer to take her out to dinner for her birthday.
But I didn’t.
The lesson that I began, just days before her birthday, (which curbed my desire to reach out to her to take her out,) was on biblical responses to the sin of another. Yeah, pretty directed, huh?
But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner- not even to eat with such a person.
1 Corinthians 15:11
But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.
2 Thessalonians 3:6
And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15
So needless to say, I left it at a message wishing her a happy birthday and nothing more. I know that when this relationship inevitably combusts I will hear from her again, but until then, I can only sit and pray.