There are times in our lives when we simply choose the wrong thing. We know what we should do and we decide not to do it. We know what we shouldn’t do and we decide to do it. Sometimes it’s just error, but sometimes it’s plain old sin.
More than once I stood by and watched while good friends made bad choices.
Why didn’t I stop them?
How would I have done that?
You see, the legalist must either change a person’s mind or separate from that person. The legalist can’t be in the same room as sin. (Well, someone else’s sin.) But sin is part of this world and part of this life. We all have broken thinking and feeling and sometimes our brokenness dictates our choices. A friend will stay with you even if you sin.
So I have walked with my friends through decisions and actions some may have called failure. They have stood with me through my failures. Real friends don’t feel guilty by association with your failure. Real friends don’t have to judge you in order to have peace in their own hearts. Real friends don’t reject you when you blow it.
That doesn’t mean they agree. They just know it isn’t their life. They care and they might even warn you to be careful or wiser, but they leave the decision up to you. Most of us will make whatever decision is in our hearts no matter what others tell us. We already know the arguments against our choice. Real friends will be there when you begin to regret what you did.
There is an interesting verse in Job. Job’s friends were legalists. They believed that the trouble in his life came because of his sin. He really didn’t need what they said. But read this:
‘A man’s friends should be kind to him when he is in trouble, even if he stops fearing the Almighty.’ Job 6:14 (NCV)
I checked this in several translations and it always turned out the same. Real friends will be there even if you turn away from the Lord.
Think about that for a moment. We all go through times of despair. Sometimes we even blame God for our pain. Sometimes we just don’t want anything to do with church or religion or salvation or God. We just want to hide or act out or something. A friend will still be there.
Which is a real friend? – The person who turns away from you when you turn from God so that he or she is not infected with your apostasy? – Or the person who says, “I am staying with the Lord and I am staying with you. Deal with it.” ???
There is something about real love that continues, something able to look past sin and error and stupidity. Something that will still be there when you and I come around to our senses again.