PROVERBS 27:5-6: “Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (NKJV
OBSERVATION: Nobody enjoys criticism. Yet, everyone needs it. There is a popular show on television now that combines variety acts with a talent competition – “America’s God Talent”. It is an interesting show to watch, and the judges critiques are just as interesting as the acts themselves. The acts that do well and move on to the next round are those that are able to receive constructive criticism well and improve. The acts that many times get eliminated are the ones that don’t think they need any help, and even receive the criticism with their own criticism.
As with anything, discernment is needed. These verses are not exhorting us to simply open our lives up to verbal attacks and devaluating remarks. It is very clear that the criticism that is to be embraced is from a “friend”. A friend is one who has our best interests at heart. They are not trying to tear us down, they are trying to help us see our blind sides and build us up. A friends critique is motivated by love, and it flows out of a relationship that has been tried over time. When a friend speaks we can listen. Their open rebuke is better than silence from one who does not have out interests at heart and feigns that they truly care.
The flip side of criticism is flattery. We may not admit it, but we all love it. When someone compliments us we may blush, or pretend to dismiss it, but deep down we like it. This human trait can open us up to deception and eventually being wounded by one who truly is not a friend. We need to beware of those who are always giving us compliments, but really never reveal their heart toward us. Proverbs calls this the “kisses of an enemy”. One of the classic examples of this was the kiss that Judas gave to Jesus when he betrayed Him in the Garden of Gethsemane.
In contrast, a true friend will not only compliment you, they will warn you, correct you, and try to help you overcome your shortcomings. This is why the Scriptures calls their “wounds” faithful. They are mirroring the heart of the Father who corrects us for our benefit and for our spiritual growth and maturity!
“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11 NKJV)
Lord, this morning I want to thank you for my true friends who have spoken into my life over the years with “faithful wounds” to help me become a better man. I want to thank you for my wife who has lovingly helped me see my blind spots and limitations and has been instrumental in my growth in Jesus Christ! I also bless all of those who had other intentions and ask You to help them find true friends that can speak into their life.
In Jesus Name!