“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6 ESV).
I’ve written recently about the value of community. In community we find and give comfort; we strengthen the faith of others and are strengthened by theirs. In community we encourage and are ourselves encouraged. But, while community is great for all of those reasons and more, it is not usually sufficient for the task of our sanctification.
Despite the common ground of salvation, those interactions we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ at church are most often shallow. We respond most often with positive affirmation regardless of our current state of being.
To be sure, our sanctification is dependent upon our own response to the Spirit of God. But sometimes we question whether we’ve heard the voice of God; sometimes we ignore the voice of God; and sometimes we, directly and intentionally, disobey the voice of God. That is where our closest and most faithful friend(s) come to the rescue.
We are comfortable being real with them. When life is difficult, they provide an attentive ear and an heart-felt response without blindly tossing Christian clichés. We trust them with all that is real and personal, knowing that we can count on their confidence. They have our backs, and we have theirs.
Given that closeness, we give each other permission to speak into our lives; sometimes this involves rebuke. Often we fail to see things in ourselves that is obvious to others. If someone outside of this closeness were to point these things out we would likely respond in anger that they would dare to do so. But when our close friends speak the same word it might be painful, but it is heard.
That’s what Proverbs 27:6 is all about. While it may hurt to learn of our sins, bad attitudes, etc., when it comes from someone we love, we can trust that individual has only our best interests at heart.
On the contrary, when an enemy affirms or compliments us, we are right to be suspicious of their motives.
Of course, if we don’t have such a person in our lives, we must take risks to develop that kind of relationship. But the reward far outweighs the risks.
Blessings on your day!