are the wounds of a friend;
are the kisses of an enemy"
Think about a doctor having to cut open a cancer patient. Once the incision is made he can get the cancer out, patch them up and send them to the ICU until they are restored to health. But to help the patient, he first had to cut into the skin. It is unimaginable to think that this doctor who, knew the patient had cancer, to say: "don't you worry, time should heal that". That doctor would lose his job and likely be sent to jail for not operating.
Lately, a friend of mine has been having doubts in his Christian walk. He keeps clinging to the next question and debatable topic over the Bible, Jesus, salvation, etc. We met this past week to have a beer and catch-up. As we did we reminded ourselves of the awesome truths of Christ, and we realized how God had deepened our relationship with each other. Over the years we've seen each other in the good and bad, through school, dating different girls, struggling with life choices, going out of our way to meet up, to email, phone, even send letters. God has grown us up and laid a mutual trust. So in a struggle, we look to the other for direction and honesty, not to butter the other up with "kisses" or false delights.
In Proverbs 27:6, there are 2 types of persons in view. The one who brings pain because he is faithful in telling the truth, and the one whose false comments are a veil, a trick, which will soon bring real pain. Both persons bring pain, one out of faithfulness, one out of deceit. Looking at verse 5 is crucial as well: "Better is open rebuke, than hidden love". How are we to build each other up when sin and/or ungodly traits are present? It is not by glossing over their sinful tendencies and still saying that we love them. It is by assessing their sin and rebuking it. If we love them we will bring it to their attention and seek their restoration to godliness. This is a faithfulness that is incumbent between friends. Friends, who want to see the other built up and conformed to Christ, will have it no other way.
As I can attest with my close doubting friend, it is comforting to have a friend who would come to me with his concerns. And I know if my doubts come I will have him there for me. Having faithful friends, those who care and are concerned for us definitely stirs up thankfulness to God.
Let's resolve to be honest not to hide our love for our friends but rebuke them in love and comfort them with the joy of the gospel for sinners who repent to Jesus.