The Wounds of a Friend


Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.      Prov 27:5-6


Man’s aversion to being told we are wrong seems universal, strong, and violent. I admit that I actually have a physiological response to this. I WANT to believe that what I think, believe, and do is right. I have to mute both the immediate emotions and the physical effect they have on me when I realize that someone is suggesting or insisting I am wrong. Sometimes that is fairly easy, sometimes not, but before what they say can have any value to me, it has to be done. The ease of it, for me, has much to do with who is sharing such an observation with me and where they sit, in my estimate, on my “qualifications” scale.

I don’t know if you have one of these informal scales in your mind, but I tend to take criticism better from people who….

·Have known me for a long time
·Know me well
·Have shown many, many years of good judgment in their own lives, and

(This, I think is the most critical one)

·Care about me

Keep in mind. I am not suggesting that we should necessarily be more inclined to consider what we perceive to be criticism from sources like these.  I am just pointing out that most of us are likely to be more sensitive to perceived criticism from sources we don’t regard very highly.

I think there are some likely exceptions to this- like a difficulty in accepting criticism from someone we look up to because we crave their approval or acknowledgment, and the fact that words of disapproval from them hurt, but as we mature, we should become more aware of what such criticism actually represents:  Love.


One common failure on the part of those offering constructive criticism is the failure to convey it in a way that feels like love to the recipient. I’m not confident that this is always possible, even when we overtly and sincerely express our love in the course of a rebuke or pointing out what is wrong, simply because we have limited control over what they feel about what we say for the reasons identified above. Needless to say, if we have little or no affection for  persons or concern for their souls, then our efforts to correct them will likely suffer from that truth. If such is the case, we need to do some beam removal first and spend some time in passionate prayer regarding the state of our own hearts. We are cautioned to speak the truth in love in Eph 4:15 and such is given as an example of spiritual maturity. Speaking the truth in hate, disdain, sarcasm, or arrogance is assured to do much more harm than good

That being said, it is tempting to just avoid it. It is hard to be told we are being hateful when what we have said is in truth an expression of concern, courage, and love. Because of our own response to correction, we know it is hard for those who don’t know or respect us to believe that we would point out wrong simply out of concern for them. We live in a hypersensitive culture which has, nearly universally, bought into the idea that any expression of concern over or disagreement with the “lifestyle” choices of others is an expression of hate.


To Christians-

Get used to being called hateful for having the courage and care to try to steer others away from what God says will destroy them. We have to approach this in exactly the same way that we would approach any situation in which we intervened in an attempt to save someone from imminent injury or death. Whether they know or believe or care,  how they feel about what we have to say is all beside the point. We have to, in reality, try not to take even the angriest and most violent of responses personally. If you do and react to the anger and hatefulness, you will have both defeated the purpose and amplified their perception that your disagreement is proof of your hate.



To those who are offended by the efforts of Christians to share their convictions and stand for what we believe in-

True evidence of our hatefulness will only ever be seen in the instances in which we refuse to speak in opposition to lives lived in rebellion against God. Because of what we believe, if we love you, we must try. We must speak. We must stand against you. We understand that you may or may not believe in God, that you may or may not think the Bible is a big joke, and you may have come across wildly hypocritical or hateful individuals claiming to be Christians in the past. We even understand that you may genuinely hate us. None of that changes the truth from where we stand. If we love you and believe that what you are doing will hurt or destroy you, we cannot stand silently by and just watch. We do not hate you, though, it is heartbreaking for any true disciple of Christ to think you would believe this.                                                   written by Dan Starr