The Wounds Of A Friend

April 6, 2015

                                             The Wounds Of A Friend

When I was a young pastor my wife’s uncle wrote me a letter exhorting me to be more careful about how I dressed.  For a few days after receiving that letter I felt hurt and bitter.  I didn’t think he had any reason for finding fault with the way I dressed.  Then I thought of something that perhaps he had reference to.  I have a problem in my neck that makes it uncomfortable for me to button the top button on my shirt.  Normally it doesn’t need to be buttoned, but when wearing a tie it is the custom to button it.  To alleviate that problem, I leave it unbuttoned.  The uncle wasn’t aware of that problem.  I never told him about my problem, but I didn’t continue to have bitterness towards him.  I knew that he meant well.  There is nothing wrong with being well dressed.

Fortunate is the one who can accept correction with a good spirit.  Proverbs 25:12 says,As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.”  An obedient ear is one that is willing to listen.  Some people have good hearing, but they refuse to hear what they don’t want to hear.  An obedient ear is likened to an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold.  If we refuse to accept correction we suffer great loss.

Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Those wounds are for our correction.  At the moment they may be painful.  We may be grieved to realize that we were hurting others and ourselves by our actions.  They are something like surgery.  It is painful at the time, but afterwards we realize that it was for our good.  They aren’t like the kisses of our enemy.  His kisses are pleasant at the time, but they aren’t for our good.

We need to have discernment to know who our friends are.  Many are quick to give us advice, but it may not be for our good.  Even our friends can sometimes give us bad advice.  There is a distinction between correction and advice.  Correction is nearly always to tell us to stop doing something we are doing.  It may also be to tell us we are negligent because we aren’t doing something that we should do.

The Bible exhorts us to be prudent and quick to accept correction.  The following are verses along that line:

“Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;

but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof” (Proverbs 1:24-25).

“He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth”   (Proverbs 10:17).

“Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish” (Proverbs 12:1).

“A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent” (Proverbs 15:5).

“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1).

If we love our brother in Christ, it is our duty to correct him.  There is, of course, a right and wrong way to do it.  II Timothy 2:24-25 tells us how to do it.  “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” Galatians 6:1 gives us further instruction in the matter of correcting others.  “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

Our inclination to accept correction depends in great measure in our humility.  It is hard for the proud to accept correction.  They are quick to take it as criticism.  They get offended and break off relations with the one who corrects them. Often prudent Christians realize that it would be in vain to correct some people because they most likely wouldn’t accept it, even if it is given in meekness and love.  The result is that the proud are often left to go on in their crooked path, bumping into others, hurting them, and hurting themselves.

Therefore, when you are corrected, take it with the right spirit.  Thank the one who gave it to you and ask him or her to pray that God will help you do better.  The truth is that sometimes correction is unjustified.  If that is the case, again thank the one who gave it to you.  You might say, “May God help me if I’m guilty of that.” Think and pray about it if you are corrected.  If God doesn’t convict you, then you must be innocent.  Most often, however, correction is justified.  True friends don’t give it to us unless they think we need it.  We should thank God for friends who love us enough to tell us when we are doing something wrong.

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