Should I tell my friend the truth she doesn’t want to hear?

Becca Garvin

“So it’s not really an affair. We haven’t done anything physical.”

I freeze. Inside I cringe but I try to keep my face receptive. My heart screams, "Stop!", but my mind ties my tongue before it can relay the message.

If I say what I know I should, you aren’t going to like it. What you are doing is wrong, and we both know it. I want to give you the best advice possible, but I know advice is not what you are really looking for.

My thoughts race as I weigh different response options. It’s like being on a highway, eyeing the median that draws a fine line between going the right way and driving straight into oncoming traffic. The median keeps getting closer and closer, but you’re driving.

What do I say?

The truth.

I hear you, God, but I love her.

So do I. That’s why she needs to hear the truth. The truth will set you both free (John 8:32).

Setting something free requires confronting what is holding on.

Setting something free requires confronting what is holding on.

If we were really in a car driving down the road and you decided to start cruising along in the wrong lane toward oncoming traffic, there would be no pause to consider your feelings, nor would the “Stop!” be silent. I wouldn’t ask you timidly to switch back to the right lane; I would grab the steering wheel from you and jerk us back to safety myself.

So why is this any different? We’re talking about your spiritual well-being and the life of your marriage.

The justifications topple through my mind every time we talk about it.

“You’re the only person I can talk to about this.”

Usually those words would be music to my ears, but they weigh on me right now because I see you starting to feel safe where you are anything but that. I can be trusted not to discuss your secrets with other people, but can I be trusted to speak up when your heart is on the line?

Jesus loves me enough to throw this hard, provoking question at me as I struggle: If I cower from telling you the truth that you don’t want to hear, am I really loving you or am I looking out for myself? Am I really concerned about your heart, or am I concerned about my desire to please you and avoid conflict?

Do I care more about feeling like a good friend, or being a good friend?

Ouch. The thought of making that confession stings more than the thought of you getting upset with me for telling you the harsh truth.

Love was designed to go deeper than comfort.

God is the creator of real love. He designed love to be something that leads hearts toward Himself, and it does not always feel comfortable in the moment. It often denies us temporary satisfaction that we have our eyes set on. God convicts us because His desire for us is nothing less than complete freedom. But our displeasure doesn’t stop God from steering us towards freedom through that love. If I truly love you, then I have to love you like He loves us (1 John 4:9-11, John 13:34).

And that, my sweet friend, is what I want for you, too.

I don’t want you to shut me out. I want to love you, support you, watch your life flourish. But I know that won’t happen if you go down this road.

Satan is the one who needs to be called out and shut down. He is the real enemy here, not you, not your temptation (John 8:44). I choose to do that now and pray that it shuts him up in your mind.

I cannot make your decisions for you, but I refuse to passively watch as Satan tries to destroy your heart.

This is your life, so you are the one driving. The only thing I can control is my voice. At the end of the day, I would rather you be safe and mad at me than see you hurt knowing that I stood there and watched that median sweep right under the tires without saying a word.

What I can be is someone who loves you and who is always here for you. Because of that same love, I cannot be a soft, excuse-friendly place to land.

I’m glad that Jesus isn’t afraid to tell us the truth. If He only told us what we wanted to hear, we would be running around blindfolded into all kinds of danger.

Extending Grace or Enabling Sin?

If God is putting someone on your heart as you read this — someone you know who is flirting with sin, outright sinning against God or others, and asking you to approve of it — God’s put you in a position to speak truth into someone's life in a huge way. You have a purpose and a responsibility that calls for love.

If you are reading this and feel like the person I am writing to, if you are looking to someone else to excuse what you are doing so you can keep doing it without so much guilt, please hear me when I say the permission of another imperfect human cannot soften the landing of your fall, nor can anyone else protect you from consequences they have no control over. Driving toward oncoming traffic might give an adrenaline rush that feels like a thrill, but it is short-lived and the aftermath is devastating. You can’t drive into oncoming traffic and walk away without hurting people — yourself and others around you.

Whether you feel too weak to speak up or too weak to turn away from the median, the good news is that God is strongest in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). That verse also tells us God's grace is sufficient for us. That means His grace can cover the mistakes made thus far and the give the courage needed to speak truth where lies want to take over.

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (Ephesians 4:25). 

Need help walking away from sin or talking to someone about something you see? Talk to someone today.

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