I’m sure that everyone would agree that a Real Friend will communicate honestly and faithfully to his/her friends. After all, communication is part of the foundation upon which a good friendship is based.
Since we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are communicable beings. We can communicate with God, and we can communicate with each other. God intended that our ability to communicate with each other would advance the purpose for which we were created. We are created to glorify God in the way we communicate, which includes praising Him for who He is, what He has done, and what He will do. The way we talk to each other, and how we build our relationships with one another, is a direct reflection of our glory and praise to God. Honest communication plays a key role in building godly friendships.
The Beginning of the Problem
Sometimes we forget that even our communication is cursed by sin. The problem started in Genesis 3, when Adam sinned by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When he realized his guilt, he didn’t go running to God to communicate what had happened, he went and hid in the bushes. As a result of Adam’s sin, we all sin – even in the way we communicate. Sometimes we run and hide in the bushes because we don’t want to communicate about a problem. We might be afraid that the problem will get worse if we talk about it, or our friend might get mad at us and break off the friendship. Both of these are possible, and I’m sure you might even be able to give an example of how you or your friend responded sinfully to honest communication. However, God still expects us to communicate (and respond to communication) in a way that brings glory to Him. We can learn from our failures and the failures of others.
The Greatest Example of Honest Communication
We have to make sure that we use our communication in the way that God intended for us to use it, in the way that Jesus modeled communication when He walked on this earth. One of the many characteristics I love about Jesus is that He practiced full disclosure with His friends. He told them all they needed to know about Him, His purpose, goals, and the future! He spoke the truth, and He spoke it lovingly.
I really like what Jesus told His disciples in John 15:15 “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” Jesus communicated openly and honestly with His friends. Jesus even used good judgment in the timing of His communication. He told them in John 16:12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” Jesus was honest, but He was also sensitive to the timing in which He spoke to His friends. In other words, a Real Friend knows what to share and when to share it. Is that the kind of friend you are? Are you sure that your friends will be open and honest with you? Will they tell you the truth when you need to hear it (even if it hurts because you know they are right)?
A Real Challenge for a Real Friend
We are actually commanded to ‘speak the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15). Many people struggle with ‘speaking the truth’ because they fear the results of being honest with their friends. That person may be thinking, “I can’t tell them the truth; it might hurt them.” Other people are really good at ‘speaking the truth,’ but they lack the ‘in love’ part of this command.
The truth is, God expects us to do both: Speak the truth and speak the truth in love. If we love our friends, we will be honest with them and speak to them lovingly; and we’ll reciprocate this by allowing them to be honest with us. Allow them to demonstrate their love for us by telling us the truth, even if we really don’t want to hear it. In being honest with ourselves, and lovingly accepting the truth, we recognize that we need to hear it if we intend to grow in thinking and acting like Jesus – therefore bringing glory to God. A Real Friend models and accepts honest communication.
Next Week: A Real Friend Is a Servant