“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
“Oil and perfume make the heart glad and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” Proverbs 27:5- 6, 9
As my tires rolled over her smooth driveway, I smiled to again see the house of my friend. She opened the door and we both laughed loudly to see the other had changed into pajamas for the occasion.
We used to get dressed up and paint the town some shade of respectable red, but life and kids and jobs happened, so now we just steal an hour here and there. We cover the highs and lows on her comfy couch in our bare feet. Though we have lived apart for more than thirteen years, the closeness remains. Every visit is a brief and beautiful gift.
And really, it isn’t even the years we have invested that has deepened our friendship. It is the amount of the REAL US that we allow to show that keeps us close. She knows I get cranky when I need to eat. I know she has little sympathy for complaining.
We both see one another’s true self. She has called me out more than once when I needed it. Lovingly, sure— but without allowing me to hide inside my sin and self.
And I need that in my life. Don’t you?
In a world fascinated by excellent appearances, we need friends that care deeply for our inner selves, the part most people never see. We need close relationships that grow in the soil of real life, bearing the roots of honesty and heart. God’s design is that we earn the right to get real with one another. We need the “faithful wounds of a friend.”
Proverbs 27 verses 5 & 6 say this very thing— “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
Have you ever had the privilege of being wounded by a close friend? It sounds backwards doesn’t it? Aren’t good friends the ones who build us up when others wound us? But if you have ever felt the discomfort of being called out by someone who knows and loves you well, you know that it is a wound that begins to heal almost immediately. Kind of like a clean shallow cut from a sharp knife, it may hurt badly but the skin returns together over a short time and leaves little scarring.
Three things we see in God’s Word about this valuable aspect of true friendship.
1. It is loving and personal. Loving, open rebuke is entirely different from whispered accusations to a third party. True community only happens when there is a mutual respect for one another’s privacy.
2. It is heartfelt. Vs. 9 states that “…the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” When we recognize that we are all sinners in the debt of God’s grace, we do not take lightly the sin of those we love. It grieves and moves us to humble action.
3. Relationship precedes rebuke. A helpful honesty must stem from an already present closeness. Few of us want to hear the rash opinions of those who do not truly know us. True Christ-honoring community is for the purpose of continued growth and discipleship. Heart-filled relationship provides a safe haven for loving encouragement.
Good friends are a good gift from a great God. May we pray together for God’s guidance as we seek to identify these types of relationships and to be the friend described in these verses.