All too often I’m guilty of allowing ungodly friendships to have a “say” in my marriage.
I’m not saying we’re suppose to shun all of our married unbeliever friends and never hangout with them. What I am saying is that having filters on who we let have a voice in our marriage is a way of fighting fiercely for it.
It means we are identifying different friendships and passionately protecting our marriage and our spouse from voices that, although may have good intentions, they speak contrarily to God’s Word.
This lesson comes from my heart and from a few friendships that have been hard to “let-go” of, but through seeking guidance in prayer and spending time in the Word, it was evident that I was letting the wrong people (with good intentions) say the wrong things about how to handle my marriage.
There are a few filters that have helped me sift through those friendships.
Use Friend Filters
Just like an infection on your body, some friendships eat away at you, and over time begin to kill (metaphorically speaking) the person God is molding you to be, which always (yes, always) affects your relationship with your spouse.
Please hear me, we are supposed to know and be friends with unbelievers and unhealthy people. Luke 5 is VERY clear about the need for us to be around people who need Jesus. In this passage, even Jesus has dinner with “unholy” people:
And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” ~ Luke 5:29-32
Again, these filters are not to be used to judge others and avoid them based on some sort of self righteousness. We all need Jesus. These filters are meant to be used to carefully select those friends who hold access to speak into your life and marriage.
1: The Faith Filter
Is this person an active, faith-filled believer, pursuing Jesus on a daily basis? The bible says that we recognize a tree by it’s fruit (Luke 6:43; Matthew 7:17-18; Matthew 12:33). Now this is not a call to judgement, but a call to discernment. Is this person bearing Godly fruit in their marriage? In their life? If not, then my prayer becomes Holy Spirit, how would you have me love this friend and share you with them? It is imperative that we rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance, wisdom and counsel. Often we don’t fully understand the situation someone else is in, which means it’s our responsibility to lovingly seek guidance from the Lord and go from there. There are those moments where the Lord has convicted me to share my faith and pray for that person, but if there’s a continued rejection of the gospel, then it’s time to let some distance set in… to pray and love them from a distance.
2: The Fruit Filter
What does their marriage look like? Again, not judging, but discerning and humbly observing (Ephesians 4:2). Is it evident that they pray together, as a couple? Would this person pray for you and with you anywhere? When you’re around them, are they engaged with each other, with their children and with the people who are there? Or is it awkward to be around them arguing and fighting all the time while striving to appear that they have it all together according to the world’s standards but inside they are broken, dying and barely surviving (you know this through time spent with them, conversations, dinners, etc.) Again, is there evidence that this person is truly abiding in Jesus and His love? (1 John 3:6,9; John 15:7)
3: The Love Filter
Jesus gave us 2 commandments: love Him and love others (Luke 10:27; Mark 12:30). Truly loving someone (spouse, family member, friend) has to involve Jesus. We are only able to love because He first loved us (1 John 4:10,19). Unconditional love that God gives us is not motivated by fear (1 John 4:18) – so how do we identify this in our married-friends’ lives? 1 John 3:16-18 (ESV) lays it out clearly:
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
Is this person first of all, in love with their Savior? And are they striving to live out their love and understanding of His love by laying down their life for a friend? Meaning are they constantly seeking what benefits themselves through your friendship? Or are they showing patterns of sincere love (Romans 12:9) towards their spouse, their children (if they have them) and you as their friend? Is there a genuine, vested interest in your life and your marriage or are you simply a means to an end?
Always be a light
To be honest these are not easy words for me to write, but we are all about transparency here. I pray that this post might shed some light for others struggling in their marriage because of some advice a non-believer friend gave them.
Just to reiterate, it’s perfectly ok to have unsaved friends (again, Luke 5:29-32), however, I’ve learned that it’s wise to be cautious when seeking advice from those friends about marriage.
None of us are perfect. We all need Christ’s unconditional love, and we are all called to be a light no matter where we are.
I am so thankful for His grace and mercies that are new every morning and I am eternally thankful for that particular Godly friend that didn’t give up on me.
Question: Which friendships are negatively affecting your marriage? What does God’s Word say about how you should deal with this person?
Images by Jeff Marsh.
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