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How can you keep relationships honest between friends?


How can you keep relationships honest between friends?—Frustrated, 15, MI

Shayna Answers:

Dear Frustrated,

Sometimes it can seem like maintaining honest relationships is hard. However, there are a few things that you can do to help it happen.

First, be honest yourself. In your relationships 50 percent of the burden of honesty falls on you. Matthew 7:12 says: “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.” So if you keep confidential information secret and tell your friends the truth even when it’s uncomfortable, they’ll be more willing to do the same for you.

Second, be the first to try and resolve conflicts. No matter how good a relationship is, disagreements are inevitable. When one or both people in a relationship are unwilling to admit that they’re wrong, it can cause tension in a relationship, even its collapse. In practical terms, I’m encouraging you to be the first one to confess your mistakes to your friends and say that you’re sorry.

Even when you get hurt, make an effort to apologize to your friends and to forgive them. This means you need to immediately tell your friends when you’re upset. Holding on to wrongs, without talking about them, can make us angry and distrustful, and it can cause us to act in passive-aggressive ways. But if our friends don’t know when they’ve hurt us, they can’t do anything to make the situation better!

When you need to resolve conflict with your friends, remember that Ephesians 4:26 says: “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” If you speak up and make amends quickly when something is bothering you, disagreements won’t fester between you and your friends. This means you’ll be forced to talk about things that are uncomfortable or that require confrontation—an essential skill in maintaining honesty in all of your relationships.

Third, be loyal. You have to be willing to stick up for your friends when they’re not around. After all, honesty encompasses not just what you say to your friends, but what you say about them when you’re not with them. Even if other people are gossiping about them, you have to be willing to defend them. Romans 14:16 reminds us how important this is: “Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil” (NIV).* Being loyal shows your friends your sincerity and avoids putting you in the middle of other people’s issues.

Finally, pray for your relationships. James 5:16 says: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (NIV). Praying helps to keep our minds focused on God and His desires for us. It also helps us exercise self-control when we feel ourselves getting angry or upset.

If you’ll pray about your relationships, not only will God give you discernment, He’ll give you more love for your friends, more understanding toward them, and an increased ability to be honest with them.

*Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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