Not Talking about Cancer

I have a friend who has a cancer problem. He is very aware of it. He seems to realize that it’s not good, but doesn’t seem to believe that it is really quite as bad as the doctor says it is. The doctor is telling him that it’s really bad and that it must be removed. Apparently, while it is of the slow growing variety, it will eventually prove to be deadly. 

There’s a part of me that wants to urge him to do something about it. But I am concerned that if I talk with him about it he may get upset with me.

Some of his other friends are concerned about him too. They know that I have some influence with him, so they are pleading with me to do what I can to urge him to do something about the cancer. I really do appreciate their concern. And I really do wish he would take it more seriously. But I just don’t want to jeopardize my friendship with him.

I also have the distinct impression that his family would not appreciate my talking with him about his problem. I think that they might consider it “meddling” if they knew I had discussed the issue with him.

I like him a lot. I consider him a good friend. And we have fun times together. I’m afraid that if I bring up the cancer thing, that it will throw cold water over our friendship. I enjoy our relationship and don’t want to mess it up. I guess that I really think that the most loving thing I can do for him is to just ignore the whole thing. 

Besides, ultimately I think his cancer is really none of my business. Of course, I would like to believe that it won’t really kill him. But, in any case, I don’t think it is my place to warn him of the danger he’s facing. I just hope things turn out all right.


If you had a close friend with cancer who had that kind of attitude about it, do you think you would react in the way that I have described? Or do you think you would react more like this:

“Listen to me! I’m concerned about you! And I know you don’t want to talk about this cancer, but it’s killing you! And I wouldn’t be your friend if I didn’t do everything in my power to persuade you to do something about it! So I’m begging you! Don’t put your head in the sand on this! It’s not too late to do something about it! But if you ignore it, it could be disastrous! You can get mad at me if you want to, but I’m telling you this because I love you! You’ve got to get serious about this before it’s too late!”

You have probably figured out where I’m going with this.

Go back to the top and substitute the word “sin” for the word “cancer” and capitalize the word “doctor.”

Isn’t it strange how, if someone we knew had a cancer problem we would consider it to be unloving not to encourage him to do something about it! But if we know someone who has a sin problem we consider it to be unloving to encourage him to do something about it!

What does that say about our opinion of sin? Perhaps it says that most of us don’t take it quite as seriously as we take cancer.

Like cancer, the effects of sin may come into our lives very slowly. And perhaps, because the effects come slowly, we may be tempted to just hope that they won’t come at all.

Unfortunately, we draw this wrong conclusion in spite of what the Doctor has clearly told us about it.