When people we love are going through hard things, we want to comfort them in any way we can. We feel for them, we’re filled with care and compassion toward them, so we seek to console them.
But sometimes our efforts to help can go wrong.
Let’s say you’re out for coffee with a close friend one afternoon. You ask how he’s been doing, and as he responds he becomes noticeably agitated. You quickly discover the source of his agitation as he tells you what his job’s been like for the past few months. He says his boss is always treating him poorly…
- He speaks disrespectfully
- He gives him all the grunt work
- He’s never given him a raise or a promotion
- He always makes it a point to share your friend’s mistakes with all of his co-workers
Because of all these issues, your friend feels like his job is constantly on the line.
As he finishes venting, he says, “I just hate my boss. I can’t help but get angry whenever I think about him.”
Now, when you hear all of this, your heart goes out to your friend.
You love him, you care for him, so you empathize deeply with him.
It would be easy in this situation to take that empathy and use it to excuse your friend’s sin.
You might want to say, “I don’t blame you, if I had a boss like that I’m sure I’d hate him too! It sounds like you definitely have a right to be angry with him.”
This response may spring from a desire to comfort, but it’s not godly, it’s not biblical.
If you tell your friend that it’s okay for him to hate his boss, or you say that he has a right to be constantly angry with his boss, you’re lying. By telling him those things, you’re speaking lies, not truth.
Because the truth is, God says it’s not okay to hate other people. No matter who they are, or what they do. We’re called to love them.
God says to put anger away and be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving toward others.
When our friends or family members are struggling with something, it’s good for us to empathize, it’s good for us to feel for them and want to help them.
But our good desire to comfort and console should never lead us to say things that encourage sinful behavior, or that try to justify sinful behavior.
We are always to give counsel, and give comfort, in a way that’s consistent with Scripture. In a way that’s consistent with the life of holiness that God calls us to.
Because God is the source of all comfort. When we heed the instruction of the Master Comforter, we’ll be the vessels of comfort our loved ones need, and the vessels God calls us to be.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
While God is faithful to change hearts and minds in the lives of His children, we also understand that change is a process, and often times far from simplistic or quick. Habits of life and thinking tend to change over time as the Holy Spirit works in hearts. This process of change is called “progressive sanctification.” It can be helpful and sometimes necessary to seek help from other Christians who can faithfully lead and walk with us, providing biblical encouragement and instruction along the way for the implementation of God-honoring, Christ-centered change. If you are struggling with life’s challenges, we would encourage you to seek help from your pastor, a godly friend, or a biblical counselor who is committed to seeking answers from God’s Word. To find a biblical counselor you can contact us or visit biblicalcounseling.com to find a counselor in your area.
Born and raised in the Dallas area, Ryan loves calling Texas his home. He met his wife Jessica at Grace Bible Fellowship Church, where he serves on staff and is a counselor for Grace Biblical Counseling Ministries. Since 2013 he has been a member of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, and in May 2015 he graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a B.S. in Ministry Leadership.