As a young adult I had the opportunity to speak in front of a large group of students and just before my time addressing the crowd, with my friend by my side, he hit me with this, “Um Mike your zipper is down!” Nervous and knowing my friend, I thought he was joking, but checked anyway. He was speaking the truth! A bit mortified, my mind raced, ‘How long had it been that way?’ ‘How embarrassing!’ But quickly I was grateful he called my attention to it before I stood in front of hundreds of students. That friend spoke the truth in love and I received a little wound of a friend.
Now, I’m sure you have been either on the receiving or giving end of such an encounter. Maybe it was something small like that friendly coworker that reminded you of a mistake on a report or that buddy that will let you know you have bad breath or that comrade who encouraged you to ‘freshen up’ a bit before you head out on that date. Wounds of a friend are meant to bring up something uncomfortable for our betterment.
Now also these ‘wounds of friend’ can cut deep like the time a loving friend confronted me on a not-so-good tendency I was displaying. Oh my, it was hard to hear, but remembering how much this friend cared for me, affirmed me, helped me, spent time with me, and encouraged me, I could not help but take it as a wound from a friend. It is not fun to hear of our mistakes, blunders, not-so-good tendencies, but we are better for it. For now we know and with God’s help, we can work to be sharpened from these loving wounds.
The Bible speaks much to this.
Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
The wounds are faithful because of the love of the friend. That love is key. Love is a trust that this wound-inducing encounter is purely for our growth, help, and good. It is all too easy to confront or criticize out of selfish gain or pushing others down so we may feel superior. Love finds no pleasure in inflicting wounds. Yet love reluctantly compels us to confront and enter into conflict, not just throwing in a grenade of condemnation and running away, but walking with that friend as they now deal with this wound. Again, love is key.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends…
It is that relentless and robust love of a true friend that God uses to help us grown through those wound-making comments. It is a love that is relational and will stick by our side as we go through the mending and strengthening process. God meant for us to have those kind of friends and be those kind of friends.
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
The Bible also gives some key guidelines as love compels us to inflict some wounds.
Matthew 18:15 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
The principle here is to make this a private matter. Sure, you might seek counsel from your mentor, but not something you share with your small group or Bible study group or 20 of your closest friends. That can lead to gossip, slander, and whole list of hurtful happenings. Keep this between you and them alone.
Matthew 18:21-22 21 Then Peter came up and said to Him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
On both sides of this wounding, forgiveness is key. The essence of forgiveness is this, take your hand right now and make a fist (I am serious, right now as you are reading this make a fist) squeeze it tight and hold that tension. To not forgive is to hold on to something, to keep mulling it over in your mind (keep that fist clenched) and keep getting angry about it and hold that person responsible for it (keep that fist clamped). Now with this fist tightened it’s difficult to do much of anything but fight! Ok now release your grip. How does that feel? I’m guessing relief. As well, you now have an open hang to help and be helped. Forgiveness is key and part of love.
Love someone enough to speak the truth in love. That love needs to be the lead edge of those conversations and the overt tone of the interaction. This kind of love turns ‘kisses of an enemy’ into wounds of a friend. I know I need those kind of loving friends, we all do.
One of the great places to build loving friendship is at church. If you are not already attending a church we would like to invite you to attend one of our church campuses this Sunday. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net . We would love for you to join us.
Seeking robust, wound-giving and wound receiving love alongside you,