Friends can tell each other anything, if they have their "friends" hats on.
Some notes (including some things cut in delivery) from my sermon today ("How to Win Enemies and Influence People") at Providence Church on Galatians 4:16
Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? (ESV)How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
Fundamental Techniques in Handling People:
1. Don't criticize, condemn, or complain.
In contrast, Paul doesn't soften the truth to make or keep friends, nor should we.
Paul’s potentially harsh words:
• 1:6 embracing another gospel, deserting Christ
• 3:1,3 "foolish" Galatians who’ve been bewitched
• 4:8-9 implied they’re becoming idolators
Ironically, Paul had been warmly received because of the truth, in spite of his limitations. Now, in spite of the former great relationship, Paul is treated like an enemy because of the truth.
3 Areas wherein we might make enemies by telling the truth:
- Evangelism – Telling someone they are sinners in need of an exclusive Savior. (N.B. Solus Christus - "His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father.")
- Sin (hypothetically/generically defining sin & specifically ("You are sinning by doing X."))
- Doctrinal Precision (e.g., Reformed theology & orthodoxy)
“There is no justification without sanctification, no forgiveness without renewal of life, no real faith from which the fruits of new obedience do not grow.” ~Martin Luther
You probably won’t make many enemies being tolerant and accepting all ideas as equally valid.
"He that hath truth on his side is a fool as well as a coward if he is afraid to own it because of other men's opinions." ~Daniel Defoe
3 Practical Suggestions:
1. Speak the truth in love. (Eph 4:15)
Far too many of us pursue certainty over truth. (Prov 23:23)
• Truth – Don’t compromise … but don’t be an obnoxious, arrogant, petty nitpicker.
“Doctrine divides” … yes, it divides truth, from error & blasphemy from praise.
• Love – Prioritize what’s best for Christ and the person, not yourself. Beware of cowardice under the guise of being loving.
Evangelism - These are the words of Jesus, not mine. (e.g., John 14:6)
Not arrogant or perfect - I recognized that I'm a sinful human being who can only be right with God because of another (i.e., Jesus).
"To disagree, one doesn't have to be disagreeable." ~Barry Goldwater
Rom 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Proverbs 28:23 Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.
Check your motives … love?
Q: Am I really saying this because I care about this person and I can care about Christ’s reputation?
N.B. I’m not asking myself do I love that person and do I love Jesus? I’m asking myself is that what’s motivating me in this moment. It may very well be that I learn something about myself and get to speak the truth in love to myself in the process.
2. Reckon yourself dead in Christ (Gal 2:20)
Phil 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
It will probably never happen here (though it's happening worldwide), but determine beforehand the worst they can do is kill you and you're already dead.
John 15:18 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
Matt 10:22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake.
Risk hurting feelings …
"You've got to run the risk of offending the people you love the most, to bring them to Christ." ~Walter Martin
3. Be open to receiving a rebuke, especially from those who care about you.
Remember, you may very well be God’s instrument of restoration.
James 5:19-20 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.