Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. â€”Proverbs 27:6
Confession: Sometimes when a Christian friend tries to point out a mistake I made or is currently making, my first instinct is to lash out with an annoyed “Mind your own business”.Â I never did, if my memory serves me right.Â I’ve never been good at baseless confrontations.Â But I do remember falling silent and listening to my…
Check that.Â PRETENDING to listen as my friend finishes his self-righteous preaching of the ills and wrongs of what I’m doing.Â Inside, I’m really only counting the minutes, hoping for him to decide to stop so I could go on my merry way.Â In some of those, I actually made a memo to myself never to say things to that person again.Â Ever.
Seems right, doesn’t it?Â That person may be my friend, but my life is still mine to live, and if he wants to stay as my friend maybe he should start considering what part of my life he could and could not encroach in.
Until I encountered this Daily Bread article.
Never will I forget the rebuke I received from a friend when I was 17. He walked into the back of the butcher shop where I worked and saw me laughing at an indecent cartoon. He said he had admired my Christian character, and was surprised that I would laugh at something sinful and degrading. Instantly a wave of embarrassment swept over me. I shamefully admitted that I had sinned.
It’s not pleasant to be rebuked, nor is it easy to rebuke another person. So I can imagine that the apostle Paul didn’t like confronting Peter (Galatians 2:11). But he felt he had to, because Peter’s hypocritical behavior was hurtful and confusing to the Gentile converts at Antioch. Peter had freely eaten with them, but after some Jews from Jerusalem came to the Antioch church, he shunned the Gentiles, fearing the Jews’ disapproval. I imagine that he felt shame, but he apparently accepted the rebuke gracefully and changed his ways. He knew that Paul was a true friend who loved him. And in later years he referred to him as “our beloved brother Paul” (2 Peter 3:15).
If you must rebuke someone, do it gently. If you are rebuked, avoid an angry response. You may be getting a needed “faithful wound” from a friend.
A friend will gently say what’s true,
Although it may cause pain;
He’s really thinking of our good
And what we stand to gain. â€”D. De Haan
A true friend will put a finger on your faults without rubbing them in.
Well, not only did this teach me that a friend who makes me aware of my mistakes really caresÂ about me, but also that if I’m a friend to someone, I should start doing the same.Â Â A person who tells his friend to mind his own business when he gently admonishes about a mistake is likeÂ someone who gets angry at a flashlight because it showed him that he’s headingÂ into a brick wall.Â On the other hand, if you like being with someone only because that person tells you what you want to hear, be careful.Â This “friend” is nothing more than a flashlight that doesn’t give you light.Â I.e. useless.
So if I tell you that you’re losing your way, it’s because (a) you are, and (b) I don’t want you to.