“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1 TNIV).
Friend To Friend
It was just a bit of burlap peaking out from underneath the soil, but to our Golden Retriever, Ginger, it was a challenge that needed to be pursued.
Shortly after we had planted a maple tree in our backyard, we went on vacation. It was the first time we had left Ginger home alone, and a neighbor fed and watched out for her while we were away. On the second day of our trip, I called Cathy to see how Ginger was fairing.
“Well, Ginger’s fine,” Cathy reported. “But you know that tree you planted last week? She dug it up!”
“She did what!” I exclaimed.
“She dug it up,” Cathy confirmed. “The tree is lying in the yard on its side.”
When we got home, we assessed the situation. It seemed that when we planted the tree, we left a small piece of the burlap around the root ball exposed. Ginger spied that remnant peaking out of the ground and wanted it…bad. A few times we had caught her pawing at the burlap, reprimanded her with a stern “no,” and she had walked away. I imagine when she saw us pull out of the driveway with a packed car; she crept over to the forbidden tree and began to dig. I imagine she dug and dug for hours with all her puppy might – flinging dirt in every direction. I’ve got to get to the bottom of this, she might have thought. This must be exposed! Finally, she accomplished her mission and the burlap was totally uncovered! Exposed! Of course she gave no thought to the tree she toppled in the mean time. It was never about the tree.
As I stared at the poor little maple lying helplessly in the yard in the hot, drying sun, I thought about how many friends I’ve observed in the same state. I thought about friends I have known, and even my self for that matter, that have been toppled for much the same reason. Perhaps someone has a little flaw that comes to the surface in plain view. Then someone else comes along and decides that the flaw is a nuisance and must be exposed at all cost. Someone starts digging and digging – flinging dirt in every direction, with no thought to what all the digging is doing to the friend. The rough canvas may be unearthed, but unfortunately the friend lies toppled in the process.
Lifeless, wounded, exposed – and for what purpose? To satisfy someone’s dogged determination to uncover a rough edge?
There are times in any friendship when confrontation is necessary. But we must always make sure that the confrontation is wrapped in prayer and tied with the lovely bow of love. If we take any joy whatsoever in the process, we must stop and check our motives and attitude.
Steve and I gently removed what was left of the burlap sack around the root system, carefully sat the maple back up into her prepared soil, and lovingly patted the dirt back around her parched roots. Then, because of her weakened state, we braced her up with ropes tied to three stakes in the ground. I watered the weary maple daily, not knowing if she would recover from the trauma. In the end, the tree not only survived, it thrived.
Oh, that we would do the same for our toppled friends. When we see a friend who has been wounded by words, we can slowly stand her back up, lovingly reestablish her roots in the good soil of God’s Word, gently brace her up with kindness, and water her daily with prayer. Who knows, you may even help her not only survive, but thrive.
Thankfully, Ginger left the tree alone after that episode. After all, she never cared about the tree in the first place.
Dear Heavenly Father, I’ll admit that sometimes I act like Ginger and dig for the dirt rather than caring for the person. Help love always to be my ultimate goal, and if I ever have one bit of pleasure in correcting someone, I pray that I will keep my mouth shut and worry about the dirt in my own life that needs to be cleaned up.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Have you ever been “toppled” by someone trying to correct you or expose a mistake you’ve made? How did you feel?
Have you ever caught yourself experiencing pleasure in correcting someone or pointing out someone’s faults? How do you think God feels about that type of correction?
Read this verse and ponder it today.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Luke 6:41 NIV)
I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s devotion? Been toppled? Been braced up? Let’s chat. Click on .
More From The Girlfriends
I bet as you read today’s devotion, you remembered a time when you lay toppled and exposed by the comments of another person. Just remembering how we felt ought to be enough to keep us from doing it to someone else. But it takes practice to hold our tongues and concentrate on our own specks…or should I say logs! If you would like to learn more about how to use your words to build up your friends rather than topple them emotionally, see The Power of a Woman’s Words. It also has a companion Bible study guide for group or individual study.