Friendly Wounds

6 Jan

open rebuke

I was reading Proverbs 27 this morning and there were many references that it is better to having a true friend bring a harsh word, than it is an enemy praising you.

Proverbs 27:5-6  – An open rebuke
    is better than hidden love!

Wounds from a sincere friend
    are better than many kisses from an enemy.

Proverbs 27:9 – The heartfelt counsel of a friend
    is as sweet as perfume and incense

True friends are for you, and understanding they are for you; they offer you the challenging word motivated from a heart of love. They are willing to risk offending you for the reward of seeing you grow. They bring open rebuke when you stray of the path because they want to see you walk in abundance in God and not continue down the life of disaster. They are there to bring wise and heartfelt counsel when you are struggling to carry your load.

This may be a small example compared to many others I could share but nonetheless the same principle and one people often let slide. I had a good friend pull me aside to talk about my ‘fragrance’ and that it wasn’t as good as it could be. He mentioned my clothes smelt damp and that it wasn’t appealing. I was so thankful that he had the confidence I would take this ‘criticism’ well. I spent the next few weeks improving my fragrance. I changed my washing method, improved my quality of drying clothes, ensured I had a good cologne with me. After these small changes, this friend actually came up to me and noticed the changes. He was absolutely ecstatic for me because I had displayed a more appealing fragrance and I am much more aware today of what fragrance I give off. It was because of his open rebuke that today I am improved.

It is as important to learn how to absorb these rebukes as much as to give it to another person; if not more important!

My challenge for you today is do you have friends around you that value you enough you offer you rebuke, criticism and counsel? Do you have friends that love you for who you are but love you too much to keep you where you are? Do you have friends that are wanting to help you build, construct and grow today? And are you that friend for people around you?

Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron,
    so a friend sharpens a friend.

It is so important for us to have a bit of transparency for others, as it creates trust and intimacy within our relationships. (Note: we do have to be careful to balance praise and constructive feedback, not to overuse rebuking. There needs to be a foundation of a strong friendship and confidence in each other underneath it all)

In sharing all this, the best way to approach rebuke and counsel is to speak to the friend privately, speak from a loving heart, to ensure that the friend understands why you are giving the rebuke/counsel (i.e. because I want to see you grow, I’m concerned etc) and lastly to follow up and encourage the person.

You can measure the love of a friend by how transparent they are with you, not by how much they flatter you…

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