Mark S. Mitchell

Pastor, Writer, Follower of Jesus

The Skill of Friendship: Part II

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The second skill is truth-telling. Healthy friendships are based on truth, even if it hurts. Proverbs 27:5-6: Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. These two proverbs speak of the need for truth-telling that’s sometimes painful in a genuine friendship. An open rebuke is better than concealed love. Concealed love refuses to show itself by saying something that’s needed but possibly hurtful, and that really isn’t love at all. It’s soft love; it’s morally useless love; it’s love that isn’t tuff enough to say something to a person when their behavior is destroying themselves and everyone around them. But “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” A friend who will tell you the truth, even when it might wound you, is precious. Their willingness to wound you is born out of faithfulness to you. It doesn’t always feel that way. Nobody likes to be wounded. But, it’s true.

This is an aspect of friendship that we have to be willing to both give and receive. If you have a friend in your life who cares for you and comes to you and tells you something about yourself that’s hard for you to hear then thank God for that person and take what they say seriously. We say we want to grow in our faith; we want God to direct us; this is often how God does it. He puts a friend in our path who loves us enough to reflect back to us some of the things about ourselves, some of the choices we’re making, that are unwise. Sure, sometimes we have to consider the source, but more often we should consider the criticism, and if we hear it from more than one person, consider it even more. An old Yiddish proverb says, “If one man calls you an ass, pay him no mind. But if two men call you an ass, put on a saddle.”

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