“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
Proverbs 27:6, NIV
When someone you know, love and trust, takes the huge risk of sharing something difficult with you, it may be hard for you to receive and even hurtful, like a wound. But such can be life-changing and life-giving, specially when they come from someone with a pure heart and no ulterior motive. We need to take notice of even tough words, when they are spoken in love, no matter what it is they are saying.
There are times in my own life when friends with a genuine and rightful concern have come to talk with me – sometimes with a real issue and at other times for clarification of something they didn’t understand. But when you know their heart you need not fear their motive.
Conversely, when someone flatters you with nice words, especially if they seem to be out of the context of today’s reality and are ‘over the top’, even too good to be true, you are right to be suspicious. You begin to suspect an ulterior motive and then wonder what it is that they are wanting from you. No-one likes to be patronised with deceptive words.
However, because we all like to hear nice things said about us, flattery can sometimes make us lower our guard and become vulnerable to making serious mistakes. It could potentially trap us into doing something that can have unfortunate, even dangerous, consequences in our lives.
There are many times when people have come for prayer about something in their life and instead of praying about their presenting symptoms, I have had to challenge them about something that is out of order in their life, which lay behind the problem they were wanting to solve. They needed to hear the faithful words of a friend, even though, at first, it may have felt like a wound.
Sometimes the initial response is anger, before reality makes them realise the truth that they are having to face. It’s not easy to confront people over what are often very sensitive issues, but if you don’t you run the danger of missing a golden opportunity to help them get right with God.
When the rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked “what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16), he was expecting a spiritual answer. But Jesus looked right through him and touched the idol in his heart when he said “go, sell your possessions and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me” (Matthew 19:21). The reality for this man was that his wealth had become more important to him than following Jesus!
There can be many things which have become idols in our hearts and when a friend, in love, has the courage to come and touch that thing, we may be initially angry at what they are saying. But to God had chosen to answer the prayers, sometimes desperate prayers, of your heart. If we open our ears to listen to what God is saying to us, then such encounters can prove to be the most important days of our life!
Prayer: Thank You, Lord that You care enough about each one of us to confront us with the truth. I pray that, just as You spoke to the rich young ruler, You will speak clearly to me about anything that is out of order in my life. Show me from Your Word or through someone You send to me. Help me not to reject wounds that will bring healing to me, nor to be deceived by flattery. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.