Proverbs 27:5-6


"Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy."

I don’t think my parents ever cited Proverbs 27 but I KNOW they said something similar. As a parent now, I realize what they meant. You can’t shower kisses to cover up wrongful deeds. You can’t “hide your love” to avoid conflict either. Sometimes, love just requires a direct approach. Maybe that’s why kids, parents, siblings, friends and spouses get angry with each other so often, but grow stronger with the conflict (if it's rightly ordered).

I once found that to be rather odd. I now know it to be true, necessary, and logical. People who really care about you risk offense to care. The two other kinds of people are different: enemies offend you out of hate or praise and adulate you toward a malicious end. “Fun-time” friends would rather worry about having fun than about improving your situation. They don’t want to risk suffering faithful wounds by admonishing you for your own good.

It might be a good idea to go out and find yourself a good friend, willing to rebuke you with a love that doesn’t seek to hide in empty, tokens of sentimentality. Obviously, there’s a time for vinegar and a time for honey too. If you’re lucky you’ll find someone capable of dispensing both.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    So very true. Rebuke to those have humble hearts can become wisdom that is well received. However, one's heart can often become calloused, resulting in always dishing out vinegar. For me, being a husband, I have a lot to learn about love and leadership. I often learn my lessons the hard way. But I am held to the responsibility of shepherding my wife and my family; the greatest Shepherd gave His life for His sheep. Loving my wife, all too often for me, means to die to my flesh and pick up my cross...loving my wife as Christ loves the church. Many times, I find myself, the hard way, loving and leading by my flesh and not by God's word; the spiritual affects of that behavior are manifest in plain sight. God is so good, He is so loving, why is it so hard to be like Him...?

    Thanks Son, I enjoy your blog.

    -Ham

  2. Son says:

    I agree about the vinegar that gushes forth from callous hearts!

    I think the distinction lies in our motives. Do we purify our intentions through love? If so we don't rebuke to hurt but because it's necessary, rightly ordered and gospel based (the vinegar is just an unintended side effect) "If thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother" (Matthew 18:15)Sometimes, your brother hates you for it, but that's the risk of loving.

    As for the struggle to be perfect, to war and win against the flesh, it's so easy yet so hard. Here's what the notorious St. Augustine said: "O God, you command me to be chaste (or honest, courageous or whatever); well then, give me what you command and command me what you will!"

    Seems he felt the way to perfection rested with the perfector. Augustine's role was to simply cooperate by emptying himself completely with audacious faith. Everything else is God.

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