It was a common scene for us. My friend and I were taking a walk in one of our favorite places. It was a beautiful and breezy fall day with plenty of conversation. My friend needed to vent — a lot — and I was ready to listen. Still, the more she talked, the more I struggled with what to say. “What if I just make her more upset?” “What if I sound like just another person wanting to give my two cents?” Walking longer and listening more, I prayed and realized that, as a sister in Christ, I need to be gentle and honest. That’s exactly what I did. Then I waited for her to be upset with me too. It didn’t happen. Instead, she thanked me for being willing to tell her the truth.
In a matter of weeks, I watched as she made some big steps to grow with the Lord. A few of those steps even made my jaw drop in shocked delight. As we would talk about each step of progress, she told me that the advice I had given, as well as that given by others close to her, had encouraged her want to grow and change.
Proverbs 25:11 says “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” I really love the visual given here that shows Godly advice as the equivalent of giving your friend a beautiful piece of art to take with them. In giving Godly advice, you are gifting your friend a thoughtful gift instead of just being part of the noise in her day.
To make your words a gift:
1. Build up your friend without making it about your plan.
Pray about your goal and motive behind your words. Are you interested in what God wants for her, or what you have decided she needs to do? Isaiah 55:8 makes it clear that, “My [God’s] thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”
2. Stand with them honestly.
It is important to let them know that you are with them during the waiting as God’s plan for them unfolds. It is also wise to pursue mutual accountability so that both of you are seeking God’s best for the other. James 5:16 says “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
3. Expect fruit.
God’s Word does not return void and there is a reason for this friend in your life. Isaiah 55:11 says “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” There is a reason this friendship is in your life at this time. Consider how the Holy Spirit could be using this for healing and growth in your life. There are blessings here for both of you.
Remain aware of your motives. If you make your words about you, that will be obvious, but if you make it about sharing truth and love with your sister in Christ, that will be a gift.