Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me;
It is oil upon the head;
Do not let my head refuse it.
We sat across the table from each other in silence; me with wounded pride, her with fear that she’d offended. In the silence I asked myself some hard questions. Questions like: is this truth or a lie? Is she saying this because she loves me or because she’s irritated with me? Is she righteous and trustworthy? The words she said to me were truth. I couldn’t deny that. But they still stung. And the woman sitting across from me was a faithful, trustworthy friend. A friend who had walked dark valleys beside me and taken me to the feet of Jesus on many occasions. I knew it was the voice of kindness rebuking me.
In my twenties rebuke and correction sent me into a tailspin of defensiveness. When someone pointed out sin in my life I responded with anger. My pride would rear its ugly head and I’d instantly erect a wall to shut that person out. After all, how dare they judge me?
Thankfully in my thirties I began to believe the truth of the Word of God that says “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6) And now, as my forties is quickly approaching, I’m so thankful for the men and women in my life who have permission to wound me with their words of truth.
The reality is I am often blind to my own sins. Other times I’m well aware of my depravity, I’m just unwilling to do anything about it. I’m perfectly content to continue in my comfortable cycle of disobedience. But when you’re confronted by a lovingly-harsh reality check you can no longer plead ignorance. At that point you have to make a choice.
It’s been the wounds of friends that have so often led me to sweet repentance. It’s when I let them get past my pride and when I give them access to confront the dirty places of my heart that I can finally see the light of healing. James 5:16 says “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”
Confession is good for the soul. And confession often follows confrontation. When it’s done right a loving rebuke brings a deeper intimacy to a relationship. After all, when someone sees your junk and still loves you enough to be willing to help you break free of it that’s a person worth having in your life.
When I think about where I am today in my walk with Christ, I know that I wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for the people God strategically placed in my path who loved me enough to reprove me. That doesn’t mean that I now welcome words of correction. No, they still hurt. Proverbs does say the wounds of a friend. It’s supposed to hurt. But I have gotten to the point where I’ll at least stop and consider their words before defending myself or getting angry or offended.
I wish I could just work out all my stuff in private with Jesus. But that’s not how the body of Christ was created to function. We were called by God to live in community with one another. We are called by God to sharpen one another. We are called by God to build friendships that love enough to speak truth, even when truth hurts. And to receive truth, even when truth wounds.
Today I’m praying that you will be brave enough to let people love you like this. And that you will be brave enough to love others this way too. After all, we could all use a little help from our friends.
Much love to you,
And, Jennifer, thanks for calling me on the carpet in the middle of Starbucks… and for being a friend who is faithful… and for not being afraid to get all-up-in-my-business when I’m acting a fool. ;o)