Wounds from a friend
So we started to look at the tougher side of friendship last week and I want to finish this theme by looking at another verse from Proverbs which examines another aspect of friendship.
Proverbs 27:6 (NIV)
6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.
Sometimes friends have to have tough conversations. I'm sure that most of us would prefer if the people around us only ever said nice things to us and the 'multiple kisses' of an enemy may seem more appealing than 'wounds from a friend'. But, in order for us to be true friends to those around us, we will sometimes have to have those difficult conversations.
Why would be inflict these metaphorical wounds upon our friends? The answer to this is very simple, for their benefit. If you are going to 'wound' a friend then you must consider a few things:
Why am I saying this?
Am I saying this from a place of love?
What will they gain from this?
Jesus spent a lot of time in the New Testament rebuking the disciples and setting them straight on things.
Matthew 16:23 (NIV)
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
If you read this verse without understanding who Jesus was and knowing His character then it comes across very harshly. Jesus is teaching Peter that he should be focussed on the concerns of God, not humans and that he is failing to see the point of Jesus mission. This rebuke is made in love and this leads us to the other side of the coin when looking at this verse in proverbs.
What if you are the one being 'wounded'? You will probably need to consider these questions:
Who is saying this to me? (Firstly, you probably know the person who you are speaking to and it's important to examine their relationship with you. If someone is having a conversation with you that is like this then they will more than likely be a close friend. In the case that they aren't, then I'd suggest you seek counsel from someone that you trust and believe to be a true friend.)
Is this being said in love? (If you've ticked the box and you know the person is a true friend it doesn't always mean that what's being said is from a place of love. We are all human and naturally will experience anger, upset and other emotions and sometimes we can speak out of turn.)
Why are they saying it to me? (If you've asked yourself the first question and you've decided that the person speaking to you is doing it because they love you and they are a true friend then you need to carefully examine what they are saying to discern what you need to learn from the exchange.)
I found this quote from Charles Bridges, An Exposition on the book of Proverbs (1847) which I believe puts the two options of wounds from a friend and kisses of the enemy in context really well:
"Who would not choose this faithful wound, however painful at the moment of infliction, rather than the multiple kisses of an enemy? The kiss of the apostate was a bitter ingredient in the Saviour's cup of suffering."
So friendship can sometimes be tough, but more than anything else we've looked at, the theme that runs deep within friendship is that the motivation for our actions is love. Jesus did all that he did for the sake of us, for the love that he had for us. God's action are all rooted in love and therefore ours should be too.
I pray that we would speak to each other with love in our hearts and that we may receive wounds from a friend with an open mind and a loving heart.