Any story sounds true until someone tells the other side and sets the record straight.
- Proverbs 18:17 TLB
Recently, I heard from a young man who writes me occasionally for prayer support and godly advice. He told me that he was getting married the following week, and he explained how adamantly opposed his entire family was to his marriage. He confessed that because of all the resistance, his bride-to-be was having second thoughts. He blamed Satan for all the turmoil, and asked me to stand in faith with him that his wedding would take place without any further problems. I must admit that, at this point, I suspected that there was more to the story than what I was being told. Nevertheless, I wrote him a kind and supportive response, praying that the misgivings I was sensing deep inside me were wrong.
The next day, I was stunned when I received a note from this young man's mother. I had never heard from this woman before, and I knew that her son must have shared my supportive note with her. This mother wrote at length about how her future daughter-in-law had already had a failed marriage, and how she was still "very immature" and "very dependent upon her parents". She told me that I was not hearing the whole story from her son, and she felt it was important for me to hear both sides. I wrote her back, thanking her for getting in touch with me and sharing her side of the story.
When I heard from that young man's mother, I felt convicted, and I knew in my heart that the Lord was trying to teach me a very valuable lesson. As I read this mother's note, I recalled how uneasy I felt when I read her son's description of all the resistance coming against his impending marriage. Instead of heeding the Lord's warning, I pushed it aside. I wanted so much to write this young man a warm and positive reply, that I ignored the Holy Spirit's prompting to confront him with my misgivings, and to offer him sound and godly advice. God had given me an opportunity to help this man, and I failed to take advantage of it. It was a painful lesson, and one that I will always remember.
Scripture says: "Any story sounds true until someone tells the other side and sets the record straight." (Proverbs 18:17 TLB) One of the reasons this proverb is in the Bible is because the Lord knows that there will be times when we will hear only one side of the story, and we will still be expected to respond somehow. Sometimes, all that God will expect us to do is to listen to the other person with a heart of compassion, and to pray for them. But sooner or later, we will be faced with a situation in which the Lord expects us to respond to someone's story with very specific advice from Him. Clearly, some risk is involved here. If we will immediately pray for the Lord's wisdom, and if we will ask Him to make us sensitive to His Spirit's leading, we will position ourselves to be mightily used by God to touch and change the lives of others. Some people "coast" through life trying to avoid confrontations and risk-taking. Christians can't afford to do that. Jesus was confrontational, and if we are to imitate and follow Him, there will be times when we must be confrontational, too. Fortunately, we don't have to confront situations and people in our own strength. If we will turn to the Lord and depend on HIS strength, He will give us the courage and wisdom we need to obey Him in this area. These are opportunities to prove to Him and others that we are committed to being God-pleasers, and not people-pleasers.
The next time someone tells you their side of the story, before they even finish speaking, pray silently for God's wisdom. Ask the Lord if it's His will for you to confront them by "speaking the truth in love". (Ephesians 4:15) If so, trust Him to give you the wisdom and strength you need to be an effective witness of His power and love. And know that your faithfulness will reap untold and eternal rewards!
Prayer: Lord, whenever I'm faced with only one side of someone's story, give me the discernment I need to respond in accordance with Your will. When it's Your desire for me to confront someone, give me Your words of wisdom, and Your heart of compassion. Give me the boldness I need to overcome my "fear of man," and help me to want to please You at all costs. (Proverbs 29:25) Thank You for rewarding my faithfulness with greater ways to serve You and others!
- J. M. Farro