This Proverb rails against popular belief and modern wisdom. We would never think of our friends as capable of wounding, but the Bible says that we are to not only expect them, but trust them! A true friend will tell you what you NEED to hear, not only what’s comfortable. When this happens, it hurts! If your friends don’t confront you and bring things to your attention, they may not be real friends!
People today are so thin skinned. We are the generation of self-help, self-love and self-esteem. But we are in many ways losing out and unable to hear a word of correction or rebuke. The reason is that our identity is so wrapped up in our performance that if anyone would question or confront our performance in a role, we recoil. We have not derived our self-esteem from what the Lord says about us, but from what people say about us. So we manufacture situations and relationships to ONLY stroke our egos and self-esteem. We avoid people that tell us the truth like lepers. We don’t want to hear where we are losing our marriage or kids. We don’t want to hear how we should finish things or do things with excellence. When and if someone should break through our pitiful defenses and actually confront an area of weakness, we get offended and cut them off.
This is rank immaturity and as the Bible says, stupidity:
“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” – Proverbs 12:1
Most Christians today surround themselves with folks that will “multiply kisses”. An enemy will only tell you what you want to hear and never what you NEED to hear. This creates a false sense of security, we skate perilously close to the edge of total ruin and our “friends” are saying “Atta boy” the whole time. It’s a terrible self-deception. I want people in my life who will cry out a warning! Yes, it may offend me for a moment, but that warning may very well save my life.
I have a buddy that I know is a friend because he’s hurt me! Several years ago, he pulled me aside and basically told me that there were some things in my life that would take me out and nullify my calling if undealt with. His warning and rebuke was painful, embarrassing and a bit discouraging. My initial response was to get angry with him and for 48 hours I seethed and muttered under my breath about how he didn’t know what he was talking about. Finally, I looked to Jesus and asked the Lord if what he said had any truth. The Lord told me that he was absolutely on point and that I had better listen to him. I repented and was delivered of the stronghold my true friend identified. It stung, but in the end, I became free from a bondage I didn’t know I had!
To this day, my respect and trust for this friend is stronger than ever.
If your “friends” only tell you nice things, they may be enemies.