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Faithful Are The Wounds Of A Friend

 

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

Proverbs 27:6

When we think of a friend, we often think of someone with nothing but good things to say about us. This person probably has your back even when you have committed a sin that has affected the local body of Christ, your family, or your friends, or someone who will stick with you through your rebellion against God or your lack of love toward your neighbor.

That is not, however, what a friend looks like: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov. 27:6).

God has given us natural means by which our friends and family in the local body of Christ are faithful and gently wound us with their kind and friendly correction. The attitude of this day and age says that “To be my friend, you must accept my lawlessness, sin, rebellion, and abandonment of God’s law.” As the American church, we have coined the phrase “come as you are and leave no different,” which is contrary to The Gospel of Christ.

A faithful minister of the Word will wound you with it not in a heavy-handed manner, but because the elder of your assembly loves you and is devoted to his station.

Our churches, friends, and family must all be capable of bringing these faithful wounds when we stumble in sin.

When it comes to your local church, I pray those who will read this have a faithful pastor who is unafraid of lovingly wounding those who assemble under the banner of Christ. To the reader, let them understand this part of the pastor’s ministry. Your pastor should not merely give you an upbeat weekly sermon that never calls you to repent of sins or throw yourself at the mercy of Christ. He is charged with caring for your soul, which includes a ministry of conviction and correction.

Pastors who are limp-wristed and not faithful to wound you with the Word of Christ are men that are not worried about the care for your soul and, most often, are not concerned with advancing the Kingdom of Christ but with building their own earthly kingdoms. You must be cautious here and know the balance between those who are heavy-handed in the pulpit and those who see the heartbeat of the church, calling her collectively to repent when needed.

There are too many examples of angry men leading angry churches that are angry at the world and forget about the gospel of Christ because the world is wicked. We must avoid this as much as the cowardly man in the pulpit. These are two extremes, and for the sake of Christ, those who lead the church from the pulpit should be faithful ministers to wound those who assemble under their leadership, but at the same time should be very cautious not to be the angry preacher that offers no hope in Christ. Faithful pastors are faithful friends who, for their love of God and man, choose to engage in complicated subjects because they are called to do so and will give an account of their actions before the chief Shepherd.

The classification of friends here would be brothers or sisters in Christ, those with whom you may often fellowship outside of the scheduled times of assembly of your local church, or those from whom you often seek counsel.

To use a hyperbole: Say you struggle with eating apple seeds. These seeds each contain a small amount of cyanide. You know this, and your “friend” knows this, but you really enjoy apple seeds. They are your vice of choice. Yet your “friend” often encourages you to eat and enjoy these apple seeds in high quantities, knowing the effects of cyanide very well. This “friend” never tries to redirect you from this habit but encourages you, even bringing you apple seeds that would amount to the lethal dosage.

This “friend” is your enemy. From the start, he or she has been deceptive to you and has worked against the best interests of your life. We have a clear example of what this looks like in the Scriptures. Judas, a man who walked with Christ and often gave lip service to the King of kings and Lord of lords, betrays him with a kiss. This proverb amplifies the betrayal of Judas, revealing to us the unfaithful words of Judas and the faithful words of Christ.

Christ loved the disciples enough to tell them what was coming their way. Christ spoke plainly to them, often revealing what He would accomplish on the cross and what they had to suffer for His sake. Christ speaks truthfully to His men, and Judas speaks deceitfully.

Who is the true friend here? We would all conclude that Christ was faithful and often wounded the disciples with His trustworthy words. Think of the time in the garden when his three disciples fell asleep while Christ prayed. Think of when Peter chopped an ear from one of those who were coming to arrest and murder Christ. Think of the faithful words Christ gave to Paul on the road to Damascus before he entered the town to arrest and murder Christians.

Christ is our most excellent example of a faithful friend, and as followers of Christ, we should be devoted to our friends with words that sometimes wound them. Let it not be said that we hand out deceitful kisses like Judas. In a culture of “come as you are and leave no different,” let us flee cowardice and be faithful friends who will call men and women to repent with the faithful words of our King.

The family here would be those living with you or from your bloodline, adoption, or foster care. When we think of authority, the family has a natural chain of command that God ordained from before the fall of man, namely with the husband leading his wife and children.

My wife has been my faithful friend since she sees issues in me before anyone else. She often wounds my pride by calling me to repentance for actions I have done or words I have said. She loves and cares for me in this way because she is a lover to me both physically and spiritually. She is someone I know I can trust at any moment to come to and say what she thinks about me in a certain area. She has the gentlest ways of showing me my sin and calling me to repent.

This dynamic is reciprocated from my end as well. We often have long conversations about how we have sinned against each other and our practice of changing given habits or actions. We hold each other accountable during those conversations. If anyone has been married long, you know that marriage is a sanctifying mercy of the Lord.

Regarding how our family can faithfully wound us with caring words of correction, not every call to repentance in your home may necessarily be needed.

My wife and I ran a boy’s home for around five years. We would have a Friday family meeting in which we would start with the youngest boy in the home and give him the floor to discuss how someone may have sinned against him. No one was exempt from the charge of sin, and there were times when the faithful words of a seven-year-old cut deep into my heart.

There were other times when the seven-year-old would make the case that another boy had sinned against him because he did not give him his personal candy. We had to correct this charge by saying that this was not a sin and that the other boy would be cleared of this charge. They would work through this independently, and often, the seven-year-old would get candy from the others. However, we never forced the boys to give from their private candy stash. It would be wrong of us to do so, and we would be enabling the young boy to lay false charges at the feet of others to get their way.

This practice of sorting through sin as a family is a simple and practical way to have open conversations and promote peace in your home, as well as model the dynamics of gospel conviction, repentance, and forgiveness. I encourage any family to implement this practice into their home life, as it was one of the greatest tools for growth for us and the children at the boy’s home.

I hope this strikes a chord with you so that you may become a more faithful friend among your church, friends, and family. I know from personal experience from a very recent event that words of loving correction are well received by those who would call you their friend. If there are elements of your life you need to get right with another brother or sister in Christ, I encourage you today to be a faithful friend, address them in a spirit of gentleness, and use your words faithfully.

For further reading
Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp
War of Words by Paul David Tripp
Speaking Truth In Love by David Powlison
Words That Hurt, Words That Heal by Carole Mayhall
Chance Summers

Chance Summers

Chance Summers currently serves as an elder at Maranatha Baptist Church and Head Master at Oak Grove Classical Christian Academy in Oak Grove, Kentucky. He is a Co-Host of the Starving For Truth Podcast. Summers pursued his education at Shawnee Baptist College, located in the heart of Louisville, Kentucky, where he fortified both his faith and knowledge. Although three children have gone before him, he remains steadfast in his hope, much like David, that one day he may be reunited with them.

February 28, 2024

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