This blog is the sixth in a series on Relationship Rescue. Have you ever tried to identify the 10 most important New Testament principles for healthy relationship? Stay tuned as Pastor Tim tries his hand at the Ten Commandments of Healthy Relationship.
#5: Thou shalt not be a coward. On many occasions, cowardice is spelled d-i-p-l-o-m-a-c-y. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? A friend turns our conversation into a personal attack on a third party. Maybe I actually realize the charges are untrue. Or perhaps I simply realize the comments are unfair because the other person isn’t here to defend himself or share a contrasting viewpoint. But I resolve to be “diplomatic.” I don’t have to get involved in this sticky wicket. I can simply sit quietly, pretend I know nothing, and eventually go on with my life.
In Galatians 2:11-14, Paul recalls an incident when Simon Peter somehow got caught up in criticism and hypocrisy. Peter realized that God was calling Gentiles to become Christians. As a result, he used all kinds of social occasions to break bread with non-Jews, dine with them, and look for chances to share the Gospel with them. But one day when he found himself with some highly respected Jews who were stern and legalistic, Peter decided to be a diplomat for a few days. He pretended that he agreed with them that Jewish Christians should avoid Gentiles, and should demand that Gentiles must first become Jews before they could become Christians. This was so phony and so destructive that Paul corrected him for being false and allowing new believers to be injured.
Peter not only knew the truth; he knew this harsh opinion was harmful and destructive to Gentiles who were coming into the Church. But maybe he wanted to maintain his respectability in the eyes of this out-of-towners, or maybe he just figured he was too busy to get bogged down in this particular controversy. But Paul wisely concluded that there is something more important than respectability.
Some practical guidelines for dealing with friends:
- When a friend divulges information about another person that is harmful or destructive, I should reply, “I’m sorry. Before we continue, let’s clarify: why are you telling me this?” If there’s nothing I can reasonably do to correct the situation, this is just gossip- even if it happens to be true.
- When a friend shares a problem he has with another person, I should reply, “Have you spoken to him about this?” If his answer is no, this is not an effort an reconciliation. It seems more like an attempt to create interesting conversation.
- When a Christian friend shares information critical of another person and desires my opinion on how to respond, I should first ask, “Have you prayed about this?” If the person hasn’t yet spoken to God about these issues, she certainly should not be creating prejudice and suspicion in my mind. I don’t need to be harsh or rude; just be a Christian adult.
Don’t let people draw you into their sin. Sometimes silence is golden. Sometimes it’s just yellow.
Lift up the Cross!