What characteristics would you list in your definition of a friend? What do you consider the hallmarks of true friendship? For me, loyalty is an essential quality, someone who sticks by me when times are tough, when I’m at my weakest. Common interests are always a plus, someone who shares the same hobbies, pastimes, skill sets, and vocational bents. I treasure a friend in whom I can confide, share personal struggles and have the confidence that those thoughts will remain personal. And who doesn’t enjoy that friend who always seems to encourage when we need that affirmation the most. But do I seek out friends who are gifted at exhortation?
King Solomon was perhaps the wisest man presented to us in Scripture, and he had some sound advice for his son, Rehoboam, concerning friendship. “Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” We don’t think of wound, that painful piercing and tearing, and the word friend, having any business being grouped together in the same sentence. Friends are to love us, not wound us, right? But one mark of a true friend is that they are willing to wound us with loving correction. Solomon is not referring to prideful, judgmental condemnation, but those painful and plain words that must be spoken in true friendship; those words spoken kindly, considerately, prayerfully, in order to restore a broken relationship with God, words spoken with the ultimate goal of healing.
None of us enjoy rebuke; we bristle against it, are inclined to resent it. But often it is necessary. Solomon’ dad, King David, was rebuked in his life, once by the prophet Nathan, who saw David’s secret sin and confronted him, jarring him into repentance and restored fellowship. Later in his reign, while David was mourning the death of his son Absalom, Joab would prevent the desertion of David’s army by confronting and exhorting his commander to “arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants.” Snap out of it, David, your men fought and risked their lives for you and ‘Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants.‘ Nathan and Joab had holy boldness to speak the truth to the king, and David had the humility to receive their rebuke.
When those we love need to hear the truth in love, are we bold enough, yet kind enough, to administer a gentle rebuke? When we are on the receiving end of the rebuke, do we have the grace to receive the needed instruction? A true friend tells me what you need to hear, not what I want to hear.
Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Lord, thank You for those dear friends that have graced my life!<div class='sharedaddy sd-block sd-like jetpack-likes-widget-wrapper jetpack-likes-widget-unloaded' id='like-post-wrapper-164683012-2973-62b942371862f' data-src='https://widgets.wp.com/likes/#blog_id=164683012&post_id=2973&origin=wordpress.grandmasgleanings.com&obj_id=164683012-2973-62b942371862f' data-name='like-post-frame-164683012-2973-62b942371862f' data-title='Like or Reblog'><h3 class="sd-title">Like this:</h3><div class='likes-widget-placeholder post-likes-widget-placeholder' style='height: 55px;'><span class='button'><span>Like</span></span> <span class="loading">Loading...</span></div><span class='sd-text-color'></span><a class='sd-link-color'></a></div>