Ep. 476 Ten Responses to the Friend Who Won’t Admit Wrong

Ep. 476 Ten Responses to the Friend Who Won’t Admit Wrong

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Shows Main Idea – Do you have a friend who does not mind telling you what’s wrong with you but never admits any of their mistakes, inadequacies, or sins? Working through and sustaining these kinds of non-reciprocating, inequitable relationships is challenging. May I walk you through ten ways to think about a friend who is more willing to admit your faults than theirs? Knowing how to lead relationships like these is vital.

Show Notes

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Mature Equity

A high degree of trust is needed between two people who desire to mature together. Because there is always something wrong in fallen relationships, there must be a willingness to be appropriately vulnerable, open, and honest with each other. These friends must create contexts of grace that permit each other to be free to reveal personal struggles. No two people can interact and engage with each other fully without this kind of perspective and agreement. Relating to each other comes with a risk, which begs these questions:

  • Do you respond in wise, humble, and mature ways to the negative news about someone else?
  • When you meet with someone to resolve differences, are you willing to be as open about what is wrong with you as you are willing to learn about the other person’s struggles?

If we do not do these things, our relationships will experience limitations in proportion to the amount of truth we hide or in how we critique others. Mature reciprocal communication happens when both people are more self-critical while placing the other person’s well-being ahead of each other.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).

  • Are you more of a rival or supporting friend when there is conflict?
  • Whose interests are you most concerned about in your relationships?

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Grenade Tossing

I have experienced many counseling situations, where in a moment of openness, a spouse begins to share some of their darker struggles. The spouse believed that if their relationship prospered, it was necessary to reveal the hidden things. As hard as it is to share negative truths about yourself, it is equally hard to be mature enough to handle the truth shared. This second problem is why I warn the person hearing the negative truth about someone else.

Stewarding another person’s problems requires maturity. The receiver of the truth must be respectful and grace-filled enough to come alongside the other person for the mutual benefit of the relationship and God’s fame. There is a temptation to use newly learned truths about the other person. In the heat of a moment, the punitive person uses the previous vulnerability in an ungodly way. It’s grenade launching.

Illustrated: Shortly after a couple arrives home from counseling, the residual effect of their lousy marriage continues. Instead of the new bad news revealed during counseling being a breakthrough, it becomes more ammo for the punitive spouse. Launching a grenade at your spouse is never right, no matter what they have done to you. The grenade launcher attempts to hold the other person to a higher standard than Christ holds them.

If we have any righteousness, it is because the Lord gave it to us rather than being generated and sustained from our innate godliness. All holiness comes because of God’s favor. Holding someone to a level of righteousness we can’t maintain is wrong. Rather than penalizing our friends like an opponent in a war, we should cooperate with God by trying to help them overcome what hinders their sanctification. We have three options:

  • We can expect them to be perfect and then level our disappointment at them after they fail.
  • We can dismiss their failures as though sin does not matter, which lets them continue to struggle.
  • We can encourage them when they reveal failures and help them change (Galatians 6:1-2).

Set your friend free by praying, encouraging, and motivating them toward change. Rather than launching a grenade across the room, give them a hug and an encouraging word to lead them with your humility, honesty, and gospel-empowered hope.

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Ten Responses

As you think about a friend who does not admit wrong, I want you to ask yourself, “Am I willing to set aside my good desires for them so I can cooperate with the Lord to restore my difficult friend?” It isn’t sincere to expect the other person to be mature if we’re unwilling to be the mature one in the relationship. Asking someone to be or do what we’re not ready to do is not the way of the gospel.

Helpful Words: Matthew 7:3-5, Romans 5:8, Philippians 2:3-4, Galatians 6:1-2.

  1. Self-righteousness: Some people tend to elevate themselves above others.
  2. Self-protection: The person is afraid to admit wrong. Their fear is the heart motive for their external self-righteousness.
  3. Fear: Maybe they are afraid to tell you the truth. Ask yourself if you are a safe person to receive negative truth from them.
  4. Judgment: It is not their experience to be open. Perhaps they come from punitive religious cultures: truth-telling equals harsh responses.
  5. Competition: The other person is competing with you. For whatever reason, they want to keep an advantage over you.
  6. Hidden Sin: The temptation to cover sin is compelling no matter how open you think the other person should be.
  7. Guilt/shame Complex: For example, a child reared by an angry dad will be captivated by shame and guilt. It motivates them to keep their sins hidden.
  8. Your Maturity: A person’s lack of self-disclosure is your opportunity to reveal the gospel (Romans 5:8).
  9. Your Self-righteousness: Do you map your experience with God over others? It is a form of self-righteousness to expect them to live out Christ the way you do.
  10. Your Idols: The person who disappoints you reveals your heart’s condition. Two excellent diagnostic questions are:
    1. How do I respond When I do not get what I want?
    2. What does my response reveal about my heart?

Call to Action

  1. Finding a friend to help you work through your immature relationship is your best call to action. Perhaps the Lord has this person in your life to help in your journey to Christlikeness. If you are sinning in response to your immature friend’s lack of transparency, it is a clue: You are not as mature as you think you are. Discussing this with a competent friend may serve you well.

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