The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Rebuke



Caring Enough to Tell the Truth


Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Proverbs 27:5-6


The King James Version says it elegantly: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Being a man or woman of integrity means that you don’t walk away from a prob­lem. It means that when you see a problem you hit it head-on, even though it would be easier and more conve­nient and pleasant just to walk away.

When someone asked General Norman Schwarzkopf the secret of his success, he replied very simply, “I never walk past a problem.” Another friend put it this way: “Just remember, when it comes to solving problems, the first price you pay is always the cheapest.” We ignore problems, hoping they will go away, but that rarely hap­pens. And the price of solving them goes up, not down.

That last bit of advice came from a pastor who stayed in the same church over thirty years. He said, “I learned years ago when I was just starting out in the ministry that my tendency when I saw a problem was to just walk away. I discovered that I had to fight that tendency. I dis­covered through hard experience that the first price you pay is always the cheapest.” The reason we don t want to get involved in solving problems we see around us is that we think if we just wait, the problems will solve them­selves. That is rarely the case. Problems never get better when you ignore them. You may think you love someone too much to say anything. No, if you really loved them, you would speak the truth. You would speak it in love, but you will speak the truth he needs to hear. Integrity does not ignore the problems of life.

This truth has two sides. We are to love each other enough that we are willing for our brothers and sisters to hurt us if necessary. What does that mean? It means that in the body of Christ we are to have some friends gathered around us who are close enough to hurt us from time to time.

Does that sound like a shocking statement? It might seem that way. Nobody wants to be hurt by his friends. We all want to be surrounded by people who will make us feel better about ourselves. The very idea of having friends who will hurt us seems absurd. Friends don t hurt each other. Friends build each other up.

But that’s not the whole story. If you want to live in a world where no one will ever hurt you, you picked the wrong planet on which to be born.

Spiritual growth becomes possible when you let other people get close enough to you to say the things to you that you need to hear-whether you want to hear them or not.


Lord Jesus, give me the courage I need to speak hard truth to my friends and the grace to receive it if they need to speak it to me. Amen.


Which is harder for you-to speak hard truth or to have someone speak it to you? Why?

What “hard truth” do you need to say that you have been putting off? What do you plan to do about it?


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