Summary: A true friend will care enough to confront you.
"Give me the avowed, the erect, the manly foe;
Bold I can meet, perhaps return his blow;
But of all the plagues, good heaven, thy wrath can send;
Save, oh save me from the candid friend!"
This poem speaks about an aspect of friendship which most of us would probably rather do without, but which each of us need - honesty!
This is the subject of our text for today:
"Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses." - Proverbs 27:6 (NIV)
We are told here that only an enemy will ignore issues we may need to face. A true friend, on the other hand, will confront us with truth we need to hear. He will be honest with us because he wants to help us. He is willing to "stir us up."
Let’s take a few moments to think about this aspect of true friendship.
1. A true friend is honest - "Wounds from a friend"
A true friend is willing, if need be, to confront you with the sometimes "painful truth." he is willing to tell you what you need to hear in order to help you.
But having said this, I think it is important to understand HOW a true friend confronts you with truth you need to hear.
A true friend shares his honesty out of a spirit of concern, not a spirit of criticism!
He seeks to follow Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 4:15, to ‘speak the truth in love." Therefore, he will combine truth with tenderness.
You see, truthfulness without tenderness is to be calloused.
Tenderness without truthfulness is to be cowardly.
But truthfulness with tenderness is to be Christian!
One of the most Christ like things we can do is to tenderly confront our friends with truth they need to hear in order to help them. 84 times the Gospels record Jesus saying "I tell you the truth." Jesus didn’t hesitate to speak the truth and neither should we if we are a true friend.
But in seeking to share a helpful truth with a friend, we must be tender. It is good to apply the "Golden Rule" when it comes to our relationship with others.
Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.
- Matthew 7:12 (The Message)
I need to ask, "How do I want to be treated?" and apply those insights to how I should go about confronting a friend with helpful truth. I am sure there are at least five ways in which we all could agree we want to be treated. As we reflect on these five ways we all want to be treated, let’s apply them to this business of tenderly confronting our friends with helpful truth. We all want others to . . .
A. Appreciate us.
"The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be
appreciated." - William James
When you seek to confront a friend with a helpful truth, express appreciation for him.
B. Listen to us.
When confronting a friend with helpful truth, be willing to listen to him. There’s a difference between listening and hearing. Listening is wanting to hear! Let you friend know you want to hear his thoughts and feelings.
C. Understand us.
We need to listen to our friend as we tell him what we believe he needs to hear in order to understand his perspective. To not demonstrate a desire to understand another is to communicate unconcern for him.
"You must seek to understand before you seek to be understood."
- Steven Covey - The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People
D. Forgive us.
If that which you are led to confront your friend about has to do with a personal offense, you do not do it until you can do so forgivingly!
A person will more easily deal with his mistakes if he knows he has forgiveness for them already.
Earnest Hemingway, in his short story, "The Capital Of The World," tells the story about a father and his teenage son who lived in Spain. Their relationship became strained, eventually shattered, and the son ran away from home. The father began the long journey in search of his lost and rebellious son, finally putting an ad in the Madrid newspaper as a last resort. His son’s name was Paco, a very common name in Spain. The ad simply read: "Dear Paco, meet me in front of the Madrid newspaper office tomorrow at noon. All is forgiven. I love you." As Hemingway writes, the next day at noon in front of the newspaper office there were 800 "Pacos" all seeking forgiveness.
All of us want to be forgiven. Remember that when you confront a friend with a truth they need to hear.