Her story finished, she watched me with cautious eyes – reflected was the unspoken question, “are you going to judge and shame me now?”
In vulnerability, my friend shared a piece of her life involving ongoing sin. She knew it, I knew it. We are both Christians – my inner, good girl Christian warred with my people pleasing and desire to comfort my friend.
In the pause she said, “I think God is good with it.” I responded, “You know God’s not good with it.” Her eyes immediately shielded. My stomach knotted – I love this girl. I don’t want to be the church lady and give a sermon when what she needs is love and a friend.
These situations are hard for me. I want to do the right thing for God. The right thing, the loving thing, as I’ve been taught is to confront her sin. Maybe back up the confrontation with scripture.
Yet I’ve felt the brunt of this approach – it didn’t feel loving. It didn’t help me. It only made me feel condemned, a failure, unloved and alone. It hurt me. I don’t want to do that – yet somehow not doing it feels like giving the green light to a situation that clearly is not okay.
I know God uses people and it’s no coincidence He sent her to me. I don’t want to blow it. I said a silent prayer and erred on the side of love.
I told her I loved her. I told her with God’s help, she would figure it out. I told her I too have sin in my life and her situation is between her and God. I said God loves us even in our sin – and backed it up with scripture:
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. –Romans 5:8 NIV
I reminded her, “God’s been with you through everything – he knows every hurt, every tear.” Then feeling nudged by the Spirit, I said, “God’s proud of you.”
She cried and hugged me and it felt like grace.
Now before pants get twisted let me state I was NOT saying God is proud of her sin.
If we had to be sinless and perfect for God to be proud of us, He wouldn’t be proud of any of us. I don’t know why I said it – but it felt right to say it. Maybe that’s why He sent my friend to me. Maybe He knew I didn’t have the heart to shake my finger and beat my Bible over my hurting friend’s head.
These situations are painful for me – I never feel like I get it right. I always feel like someone else would do it better, know the perfect approach and words to say. Yet God, in His wisdom, sent her to me.
God is supremely able to handle my friend’s situation – without me chiming in – she already knows it’s wrong. This doesn’t mean I think it’s okay to ignore destructive behavior. It does mean I’m not comfortable ignoring the person to check a box so I can feel good about my response.
When faced with life’s challenges, I’m going to err on the side of love.
If I make a mistake, I’d rather make the mistake of loving too much or being too soft than hurting someone out of my own misguided thinking.God is bigger than my messed up attempts at following Christ. Click To Tweet
I plan to make the main thing the main thing. Jesus said God’s greatest commandment is:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” –Mark 12:30-31 NIV
Sometimes in my quest to get it right, I make minor stuff major and forget the greatest commandment of all – to love each other. When I love God first and most and best, everything else falls into place. He enables me to love others – sometimes with hard truth, sometimes with a hug.
We all have sin to deal with – we are the ones who decide his is worse than mine or that sin is worse than this one.
To God, sin is sin – it’s all destructive – yet in His mercy and grace, He loves us anyway. He simply waits for you and me – exactly as we are. And when we come, with dirty hands and outstretched arms, He is proud of us.