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Proverbs 27

Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel. ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:5-6, 9‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

These Proverbs talk about the value of a true friend, who will be honest, even when the truth is tough to hear.  Being able to accept the advice or criticism from a loyal friend, as well as being bold enough to be honest with them in return, is all part of the maturation process for a Christian.  “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.  (Ephesians 4:14-15).  Although it is important to be honest with all of the people we care about, it is especially important for our Christian friends and family.  This is because, as Christians, we want to help all followers of Christ to continue forward on their spiritual journey, and do not want anything holding them back.  Sometimes that means pointing out bad choices to those we care about, in order to guide them back onto the right path.  This is easier said than done.  So, how do you speak the truth in love?  First and foremost, you must make sure that your comments are rooted in truth and love, not condemnation or anger.  Here are some other key points that you should remember when you are led to have one of these difficult conversations with a fellow believer:

  • Pray before, during, and after you say what needs to be said.
  • Use Scripture as a guide to back up your words.  Choose a few applicable Scriptures ahead of time so you are prepared.  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
  • Make sure that you are motivated by God’s love for the person or the situation, rather than any selfish intentions.
  • Make sure you have an established relationship with the other person.  Someone who knows you and understands your heart will be more willing to accept what you have to say.
  • Conduct the conversation with the individual alone.  “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over” (Matthew 18:15).
  • What you say must be the truth, without embellishments or assumptions.  
  • Remain humble and avoid looking down on the other person, keeping in mind that we are all prone to making mistakes. “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself” (Galatians 6:1, NLT).
  • You must guide the person back to the Bible.  Any advice you give should always be based on God’s wisdom, not on your own opinions or feelings.

Remember that the best, closest, and most precious friend you will ever have will love you enough to tell you things about your life that no one else cared enough to say.  Strive to be one of those friends, always using God’s Word as your guide, and “…Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29, NLT).  

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