i'm better UNdignified
a Christian life devotional
There is a certain friend of mine whom I have been very close with for years. This is a person I turn to for advice on anything that comes up in life from relationships to career choices. Sometimes when I call, this person just listens and encourages me, but often times I get a little more than I asked for! When I come to this person in times of distress, I expect encouragement, but often I get an earful of rebuke! Well that doesn’t sound like a very good friend, some might say -heck I might even have said that looking in on it from the outside- but for some reason or another, I keep turning to this person for support. Why? Well let’s see what the Bible says about a friend like this.
Turning to 2 Samuel chapter 11, we’ll find King David at a low point in his life. He commits adultery with the wife of one of his soldiers, Uriah, who is away at war. Bathsheba, the adulteress, ends up pregnant and David now needs a cover up. After a failed attempt to try to induce Uriah to sleep with his wife by calling him home, King David then murders Uriah by secretly ordering that he be sent to the fiercest part of the battle, and that the other men withdraw from him. With her husband deceased and King David the father of her soon-to-be-born child, she marries him, and David’s plan seems to be a success. However, verse 27b tells us, “But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”
So on the scene in chapter 12 comes Nathan, prophet and David’s friend and trusted adviser. At a point where it would have been easier on both parts for Nathan to justify the king’s actions or not mention them, Nathan instead comes up with a creative parable (2 Samuel 12:1-4) which arouses great anger in David at the man in the parable. Nathan responds saying, “You are the man!” (v.7). Rebuking the king like this could have gotten Nathan killed, but had he not, David would not have seen his wrongdoing and could not have repented. So we see that Nathan is much like my friend, and he actually did a positive thing in telling David what he didn’t want to hear.
Moving to Proverbs, Solomon (David’s son) tells in 27:5, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” So here we see that open rebuke from our friends is actually in a sense a proclamation of love. Verse 6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” What strong words! We may not like what our friends say to us in rebuke, but we can trust that they have our best interest at heart, in most cases. On the contrary, the Bible is calling those who merely flatter us regardless of the integrity of our actions “enemies!” So, take a second look at the ones you call friends. Do they usually go along with whatever you do or possibly enable your actions that may be unethical, or do they come to you with your shortcomings so that you may weigh your actions?
So as a word of encouragement to the friend who may need to speak rebuke in love as Nathan did, Proverbs 28:23 tells us, “Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than the one who has a flattering tongue.” So in most cases, if we are going to give loving rebuke to a friend, this verse tells us, in the end they will usually favor us over the one who just tells them the things they want to hear. Of course this may not always be the case. Some people are just not as open to loving rebuke and some have trouble ever seeing their ways.
On the other hand, we should diligently seek much guidance from the Lord before giving this rebuke, and ensure that it warranted, for, “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers…” (Proverbs 15:28a). Also we should seek guidance on the way this rebuke is delivered, for, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Even then, however, we may be the ones in the wrong. So we must be open to the fact that, while our intentions may be good, our perspective is not always the right one, for, “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart” (Proverbs 21:2).
May God guide you in all of your relationships giving you discernment to distinguish between real friends and “enemies,” and may he give you wisdom to speak the right words to a friend in need of truth.
Bible References Today: 2 Samuel 11 & 12; Proverbs 27:5-6; 28:23; 15:1, 28a; 21:2
Do you have any friends who are in need of loving rebuke or who seem afraid to question your actions? What might you say to them?
WE'D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR COMMENTS!