(Prov 27:5 NLT) An open rebuke is better than hidden love!
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Most of us naturally react negatively to correction. It is not until after we think about what we are being corrected for that we acknowledge the error of our ways and make the necessary course corrections. But if the correction never came? What if others knew we were going down the wrong road, but did not care enough about us to tell us? We can all see the wrong in others much faster than we can see it in ourselves, but the reality is that we don’t approach everyone about the wrong we see in their lives. If we address an error with anyone, it will more than likely be with those we have a genuine care and concern for. Why? Because we don’t want to see them fail. Our love and concern for them is so strong and genuine that we are willing to risk the initial backlash in order to see our friend do better.
Back in chapter 13 Solomon said, “A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them” (v.22). While we are not talking about parenting today the premise is the same. If you truly love someone, or at least genuinely care for them, you have an obligation to point out what you believe to be behavior that will hurt them in the long run.
I remember when I joined the military. Back then we wore the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) to work. BDUs had two flaps (one on each side) that needed to be buttoned-down for proper wear. Most Soldiers had their BDUs cleaned and starched by the Dry Cleaners. Oftentimes the Dry Cleaners would unbutton the flaps, leaving the requirement on the Soldier to re-button them for proper wear. I remember one day (this was almost 20 years ago now) when I put my BDU top on without buttoning the flaps. I was a stickler for my uniform, so when a few other Soldiers realized I was not wearing the uniform correctly, they chose to laugh about it behind my back instead of correcting me. This went on for most of the day and they got a bunch of laughs out of it. It was not until one of my friends, from another company in my battalion, saw me after lunch that he told me I was “flapping” so I could make the correction. Now, this is a simple example with something insignificant, but the same scenario is played out every day with people that have real issues, like addictions to alcohol, drugs, porn, etc., with those who are in abusive relationships, and with those who simply need to correct the way they talk to others.
If you read the second chapter of Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia you will see a good example of this. Paul loved Peter enough to correct him. Paul wrote, “When Peter came to Antioch, I told him face to face that he was wrong” (Gal 2:11). What Peter was doing was hurting his witness and it had the potential to hurt new converts. Paul loved Peter and the new converts enough to say something about it.
So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1. Be honest with your friends. Later Solomon said, “In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery” (Prov 28:23).
2. A failure to correct is a failure to love. If you genuinely love someone you won’t allow them to keep going down the wrong path.
3. Maintaining strong relationships requires work and courage. You might have to risk the initial backlash in order to see your friend do better
Closing Confession: Father, I thank You for this Word. This Word reminds me that I have a role to play in the lives of those I love and genuinely care for. My care for them is too strong to idly sit by and watch the error of their ways. You give me the wisdom to be able to speak to them, in love, so that they hear my heart and consider what I am saying in the spirit in which I am saying it. Even if they initially get upset with me, I believe they will appreciate my honesty and love in the long wrong. I am willing to risk the initial tension for the ultimate payoff. Use me Father as a conduit through which You can reach those I love. And use them to reach me when I am wrong. I am not perfect and I declare, by faith, that I will also receive the correction, in love, when my friends address the error of my ways. I speak this by faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!