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When a Friend Betrays You

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
When friends ignore the conflict that has occurred between them, the problem always intensifies.

Family Counseling Ministries -

In the 2nd part of a three-article series on conflict between friends, Dr. Don Dunlap explains several steps that Christians should follow when they are unable to resolve conflict between themselves. First, they should identify the problem in a non-accusatory manner. Next, they should list the obstacles that hinder them from resolving the conflict. Then, they must identify the points that they agree upon, and take responsibility for the ways they contributed to the problem.

Two quarrelling church members, Linda and Katherine, had been unwilling to resolve the conflict between themselves. Their disunity was negatively affecting many other people’s lives. When a third friend confronted them about their unbiblical attitudes they consented to meet with me, their pastor. We agreed that it would be wise to review the scriptural principles regarding the sin of judging others.


These women who were long-time friends and outstanding examples of godly womanhood to younger women, had hurled unkind accusations at one another.


We began with Luke 6:37,

Do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven.

I explained to them that they were guilty of the sin of condemning because of the accusations that they had leveled against one another. We also discussed Jesus’ sobering warning in Matthew 7:1,2,

Do not judge, lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

First, I told them that we needed to identify the problem from each of their perspectives, without declaring the other person “guilty” of any sin. We quickly concurred that the problem was their conflicting views on how best to conduct the women’s weekly prayer group meeting.

They needed to rationally identify the problem. If they tried to ignore it and pretend it didn’t exist, the problem would intensify.

Second, I asked them to list the obstacles that prevented the two of them from attaining one mind and one heart in the matter. Then I suggested that they should have confronted one another in a more loving manner. I gave Katherine an example of how she could have expressed her rebuke more gently. “Linda, I feel uncomfortable that you asked a group member for her opinion about something that you and I had not yet gotten settled between us. I don’t think it was appropriate for you to bring someone else into the debate unless I knew about it first.”

I told Linda that she, on the other hand, could have stated her position in this way, “Katherine, I am grieved that you so quickly assumed that I was gossiping about you. That was not my intent. I simply wanted to get another perspective on the matter. I wish you had given me a chance to explain my actions to you before you accused me of such a serious offense.”

Their love for God and their desire to obey Him was the basis for their agreement on several points.

Third, I requested that they tell me what points they agreed upon.They both said that they wanted to help lead a women’s prayer group that would honor God, and minister to the women’s needs. They wanted to share the responsibility for joint leadership of the group. Finally, they agreed that they loved, respected and appreciated one another.

Fourth, I appealed to them to assume responsibility for their individual contributions to the misunderstanding. I led them both to acknowledge the fact that they had been guilty of judging one another’s hearts, instead of demonstrating an attitude of reverence and humility. I reminded them of the admonition in Romans 14:10,

But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.

As Katherine and Linda considered the scripture verses that I shared with them, they began to realize how they had wronged each other. It became evident that the Holy Spirit was accomplishing a work of conviction and reconciliation in their lives.



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