We know that a good friend is someone who listens. Proverbs 18:24 says that “a man who has friends must show himself friendly.” At the same time, there is a point when a friend can only go so far.
The second part of Proverbs 18:24 says, “and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Many people feel this verse is prophetic of Christ, and his willingness to stay with you when everyone else has gone. And how true that is! God said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” according to Hebrews 13:5.
What we, as friends, need to know is that there is a point in a friendship where we simply cannot help, and God must.
I’m not talking about forsaking those you love, but rather about knowing when someone has a problem that is beyond you. It is more than you can, and should, attempt to bear.
We, as friends, must always be willing to help a friend, and always willing to pray. But but when the help needed surpasses the bounds of normal friendship, we need to know where our assistance must end and the assistance of someone more capable begins.
Many situations that we go through in life simply are not to be handled between friends alone… they need to go through pastoral leadership. Many have been the times when a situation could have been resolved with the careful and spiritual guidance of the man of God in the church, but ended in tragedy.
Know where your pastor stands on issues. Ask him. And be cautious of the situations brought to you that are beyond your scope.
Furthermore, I believe we do a sincere injustice to our friends and fellow saints, to our church, and to our pastor when we keep important things from the man of God. He is there to watch for our souls. Let’s let him do so.
There are times when a pastor deals with situations in a person’s life that are even beyond his own capabilities. While sickness (even mental and emotional) is a result of Adam’s sin, it’s not solely a spiritual issue. It’s also true that God has gifted men and women of medicine with knowledge and skills to help those in need. We can pray with them, but some situations actually require medical attention to be resolved.
If you are not a professional Christian counselor, please do not act like one. Know when a person’s need is beyond your level of assistance, or you will cause them more harm than good.
This could go without saying, but the first and foremost place we should turn is to God. Before you attempt to help coach someone through a problem, turn to God. Help that person pray. Help them reach in to God to receive strength and assistance.
We are often guilty of trying to help friends through problems without even consulting the Lord on how to deal with them. I believe many problems would be resolved much more quickly if we would just place them in God’s hands and take them out of our own.
While a friend is one who listens, a true friend is one who knows when his or her shoulder is inadequate to help, and can lead the one in need to the proper place.