Recently, there was a circumstance with one of our good friends where he was doing something that Richard and I didn't agree with. So we told him about it. I'm not saying we shouldn't have done that (I still think our opinion is discerning and Biblical), but we definately should and could have handled it better. Perhaps - thinking out our thoughts beforehand, having specific scripture outlined, and certainly presenting ourselves in a more loving way. However, the point of this blog is not to analyze what we could have done differently. Needless to say, the conversation didn't go well, and we ended up alienating and offending our friend.
Well, it all worked out and we all apologized, and one might think that was the end of the story. But God had bigger plans for me.
Two thoughts kept running through my mind:
The first was part of a verse: Build each other up in brotherly love. (I couldn't remember any more than that, but I looked it up for you; it's Romans 12:10, and actually the whole idea is scattered throughout the NT).
The second thought was some parenting advice that I read or heard at one point and it was: for every time the criticize your child, you should encourage them 40.
So I merged these two thoughts to get: What if we send our friend 40 text messages telling him all the things we admire, respect, and love about him? What if we tell him that he's special to God and us? I know, it's a little radical and crazy. But, I determined that these thoughts were coming from God for two reasons. One, I often get crazy ideas, but usually I can't remember them five minutes later (momnesia), and two, they were convicting me.
I really expected Richard to laugh at me, but he didn't. He actually, although slightly self-conscious for a moment, agreed! So we spent all day yesterday text messaging our friend. It was a blast. At first he didn't know what was going on, but after about 20 of them, I think he got the idea. The result: instead of our friendship being awkward, it was made even stronger. It was great for Richard and I too, to do that act of ministry together.
So the lesson I learned: holding our friends accountable is good - Biblical, ethical, important, etc. But, we must not forget that our FIRST commandment is to Love God, and the SECOND . . . well, you know it!
(Note: I asked my friend if it was cool to post this before I did).