Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted…
Rudeness is not the friend of anyone, nor is it an asset in life. The Bible is abundantly clear on this.
“The Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (2 Tim. 2:24).
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20).
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen … Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander… (Ephesians 4:29-31)
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs…” (1 Cor 13:4-5)
But we still have the need to address issues in life. Love does not show itself by avoiding discussing the problems and weaknesses we each have. Intimate relationships under the Lordship of Christ should allow us to hear what others are able to teach us, how they see our weaknesses, how we can improve.
The old adage, “People do not care how much we know, until they know how much we care,” finds some biblical roots here, for the “wounds from a friend” are those that can be trusted. A friend has won our confidence and shown himself to be faithful to us, desiring our best. A friend is not someone who goes about trying to wound us, or always trying to improve us with his advice. He reaches out to us in friendship and companionship, accepting us as having some promise and able to offer something in return. He does not see himself as our superior, but as our brother and colleague.
We each need to have relationships like this, where friendships touch us where we need to be touched at our point of need. The attitude that we need to have is one of openness and the discipline we need to develop is listening to others. This is not the insecure, self-centered attitude of the person who is always asking, “Do you like me?” – though he may use different words this is what he craves, acceptance and approval.
Rather the attitude and disciplines taught in Scripture are ones stemming from maturity, where out of the confidence of our acceptance in Christ, from our sense of awareness that we are part of the family of Christ, we are open in our hearts and actively listening to others. It is the humble and contrite person whom God promises to exalt, and our humility is often tested in our willingness to listen to what others observe about us – even the painful comments. The main things we want to hear in our conversations are about them and their needs, how we can help them – we should not make ourselves the topic of every conversation, that is narcissism.
The wounds of a friend may hurt like the wounds of an enemy, but if he is our friend they are meant for our good. In the family of Christ all are of the same rank and status, so we should never feel inferior to any person. We are fully loved and fully redeemed. But if we take seriously our need to grow, we will open ourselves up to hearing the observations of others and considering them. No matter what someone says, we should always remember that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!