What kind of person are you? What kind of friend are you?
If you saw a blind man who was unknowingly walking straight towards a cliff, would you do whatever was in your power to warn him of the impending danger?
If there was a drunken man passed out on some railroad tracks and the train was heading in his direction, would you muster up every ounce of strength you could to pull him off the tracks?
If your friend's breath stank day in and day out, would you tell him or her of this hygiene problem, or would you say nothing because you were afraid of hurting their feelings?
Most of us, I believe, would not stand by idly and let a stranger walk right into harm's way. Yet when it comes to people who are close to us, oftentimes we remain silent in even the most inconsequential of matters out of fear of saying something that would cause our friend embarrassment, or (more often the case) we just do not want anybody angry with us.
And, unfortunately, this unwillingness to confront our friends and tell them of their shortcomings also hinders us from pointing out those areas in their life that we know are sinful and unrighteous in God's eyes.
Well, it is bad enough when we are not forthright in telling our friends that they have bad breath, but even at its worse, a little halitosis never destined anyone to hell! But not repenting of one's sins and turning towards Christ will result in a person going to hell. So when you see sin in a loved one's life and you, for whatever reason, just turn a blind eye to it, that apathy can result in serious consequences indeed. If you do not take it upon yourself to rebuke, enlighten, and correct your friend, who will?
If you have a family member or friend who is willfully sinning, you should care enough about that person to share the gospel with them and warn them of the unrighteousness they are committing in God's eyes. Whether they are fornicating, committing adultery, lying and cheating, contemplating having an abortion, living a homosexual lifestyle, following some false religion, or whatever else the sin may be, it needs to be exposed. Have you ever heard the slogan, "Friends don't let friends drive drunk"? Well, friends don't let friends incur the wrath of God!
It can be hard to tell people the truth about themselves, but doing so is what separates a real friend from a fake friend. The Bible puts it this way: "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (Proverbs 27:6). This verse is saying that real friends tell friends the truth even if it will cause a "wound." What is that wound? Possibly hurt feelings, embarrassment, hurt pride. But whatever the wound is, a friend inflicts it out of love and concern. As opposed to the enemy who will let you sin and smile in your face, never saying a word, never caring about your soul.
Remember when David was committing adultery with Bathsheba? Lots of people saw what was going on, but it was Nathan who had the guts to tell David about himself. I'm sure that the confrontation was uncomfortable for both men, but after the sin was exposed, then David was forced to make the choice of either repenting or rebelliously continuing on. David chose to get things right with God. So, again, telling people when they are engaging in sin is not always easy, but it is always necessary.
Let me give you an example of what it is like when we don't tell people what they need to know. Let's say you went to your doctor friend for an exam, and you were checked out head to toe. At the end of the physical when the tests came back, the doctor gave you a clean bill of health. You left his office a happy camper.
Then six months later, you are feeling kind of dizzy. You even blackout a couple of times. You rush back to the office of your friend the doctor. You describe your symptoms and ask him what could possibly be wrong.
Your doctor friend then tells you that you have a brain tumor the size of a baseball and probably only have a couple weeks to live.
In anger and shock you ask him, "Why wasn't this found on the tests six months ago?" He tells you that it was.
Incredulously you ask him, "Then why didn't you warn me? I could have done something about it!" He calmly says, "I didn't want to upset you. I knew that the truth would make you uncomfortable."
Is this man a good doctor? Is he a real friend? No. This is just a selfish man who is more concerned with being "liked" and thought of as "someone who is fun to be around," as opposed to being someone who truly cares about another human being. Perhaps subconsciously you remain silent for the same reason. You don't want to rock the boat or make waves. But in the long run, keeping the peace by remaining silent can have devastating consequences for our loved ones whom we did not warn and rebuke.
Show your friends the error of their ways. Point out the "cancerous" sins that are in their lives. Why? Because possibly that person will repent and then be on the road to being made perfect in Jesus. Colossians 1:28 tells us, "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
Cancer left unchecked will just continue to fester and grow until it brings death. Sins left unchecked will just continue to fester and grow until they bring eternal damnation. Silence is not always golden. "Open rebuke is better than secret love" (Proverbs 27:5).
When being this kind of friend, you may not win any popularity contests. Oftentimes, people do not appreciate being called a sinner. When you are bold enough to tell people the truth and call sin sin, expect that many people will become defensive or angry. They will accuse you of judging them. They will point out your past sins and ask you who do you think you are. You may even lose a friend or two. But personally I would rather have you mad at me now and see you in heaven later than to say nothing and watch you drift farther and farther away from God. This verse sums it up nicely: 1 Corinthians 4:14, "I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you." Just as God chastens and rebukes those whom He loves, we should do the same. We need to warn our beloved friends when we see them breaking God's laws.
And who knows? There may be a person or two who eventually thank you for loving them enough to tell them the truth. Proverbs 28:23 reads, "He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue." Don't you remember a time when someone straightened you out and told you what you needed to hear instead of what you wanted to hear?
Ecclesiastes 7:5, "It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools."