Faithfulness in Friendship:
Can't You See I'm Going in the Wrong Direction?
by Greg Wright, April 10, 2004

We eagerly gathered around Jimmy as he described his latest adventure with his corvette:

I was speeding down the highway when a patrolman pulled out behind me. He never even got close as I raced away. Then when I saw a gas station on the other side of the road, I crossed the median, got out of my car, and began pumping gas. The patrolman pulled up and I had to think fast.

He pointed down the road and snarled, "I clocked you going over a hundred miles an hour."

I managed a surprised look and responded, "That couldn't have been me, sir. Can't you see I'm going in the wrong direction?"

It worked--the patrolman drove away without giving me a ticket.

We listened in awe, amazed at Jimmy's cleverness in outsmarting the patrolman. I didn't think about the story very much until I later learned that Jimmy had been in a terrible accident--due to speeding--and was now confined to a wheelchair.

Those words continued to ring in my ears: "Can't you see I'm going in the wrong direction." Amazingly, although Jimmy told us this story in the break between assembly and Sunday School class, not one of us church kids responded with disapproval. None of us had the courage or the moral integrity to say, "Jimmy, can't you see you really are going in the wrong direction?"

Why? Why were we so reluctant to confront Jimmy?

I can think of at least three reasons:

  1. We had little regard for those in authority over us. We shared Jimmy's rebellious spirit, even though we might not have been as reckless.

  2. We had little concern for holiness. Sin was not as offensive to us as it should have been. We were more concerned with pleasing our peers than with pleasing God.

  3. We had little true concern for Jimmy. Indeed, we used friends to serve our own interests. Friends added to our fun. Friends gave us the comfort of being part of a group. Had we appeared to be too concerned about right and wrong, it would have made our friends uncomfortable. Eventually, we would have been excluded from their circle.

The Bible would teach us differently: "Faithful are the wounds of a friend" (Proverbs 27:6a, KJV). Had we challenged Jimmy's behavior, it would have wounded his pride and perhaps even made him angry. We will never know whether such a wound would have saved him from a life of pain and confinement. But this we do know: we didn't try. We were unfaithful in friendship.

A truly faithful friend will not be silent while his friend engages in self-destructive behaviors. A truly faithful friend will not hold his peace while his friend self-destructs. Indeed, he will confront, even at the risk of losing friendship, for "faithful are the wounds of a friend."

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