Last post discussed the importance of correcting people, something largely ignored by the world. Our culture often says “love” means letting people do whatever they want whether it is detrimental to them or anyone else. Disagreeing with someone’s choices or lifestyle makes you at best unloving, and at worst hateful. This logic demands sitting back silently while people make decisions that are detrimental to them or others.
The Bible, on the other hand, points out the logical reality that love demands correcting people:
Proverbs 9:8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
He will love you, because he has the wisdom to recognize you have done him a favor.
Correcting People: The Behavior of Friends Versus Enemies
David saw it as an act of love to be rebuked by someone:
Psalm 141:5 Let the righteous strike me;
It shall be a kindness.
And let him rebuke me;
It shall be as excellent oil;
Let my head not refuse it.
David invited correction, because he knew how important it was if he was going to live a life fully committed to the Lord.
When someone is sinning, correcting is what a friend does. Silence – or worse encouragement – is what an enemy does:
Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is better
Than love carefully concealed.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Rebuking is better or more loving than “love” that remains silent when it should speak up. A true friend will hurt you at times. Someone who praises or compliments when a rebuke should take place is not just unloving, but is an enemy because of the selfishness of supporting or encouraging a destructive behavior.
Ecclesiastes 7:5 communicates the same truth:
It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise
Than for a man to hear the song of fools.
Comparing Ecclesiastes 7:5 with Proverbs 27:6 it is better to be wounded/rebuked by someone wise than kissed/sung to (or praised) by a fool/enemy.
A Wonderful Example
Nathan the prophet was a faithful friend to David. When David’s son Adonijah rebelled against him, two of David’s closest friends – Joab and Abiathar – tragically joined him (1 Kings 1:7). Nathan stayed faithful to David though. He warned David about the betrayal through David’s wife Bathsheba (1 Kings 1:11-24).
Was this the greatest example of Nathan’s friendship? I don’t think so. I think the greatest example took place years earlier when Nathan confronted David about his sins of adultery and murder. David refused to repent. He tried to hide his sin, and for almost a year he had been able to do so. But then Nathan visited David and told him a story about a man who acted very wickedly. David didn’t know the story was about him. In 2 Samuel 12:5-7 Nathan revealed the truth:
So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!
When was Nathan a better friend to David? When he stood by David or when he confronted him about his sin? I would say when he confronted him, because that’s when Nathan risked the most, even his own life.
If you want to know who your real friends are, think of the people who have been honest with you even when they knew it would hurt. If you want to know the people who really love you, think of the people who corrected you even when they knew it might damage the relationship. Of the friends we have, these are the ones who love us enough to put our best interests ahead of even the friendship itself.