From Proverbs 27 this morning…
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
We’re a society full of our own sense of wrongs, victimhoods, and hurts. I’m an advocate for victims, so I’m not setting aside valid complaint in this post, but defining it.
We live in a world of hurt. We also live in a world full of sinful harm. As Christians, we need to see between these two.
Hurt involves either small insult or offense of the ‘turn the other cheek’ variety. In the hands of a loving soul, hurt may be the only path to actual healing within a community.
I left a fellowship because I desperately needed to forsake their pain-avoidance-sickness. I grew sick. My friendships were sick, if I had any. My marriage sickened too. They refused to practice faithful wounding of anyone in pursuit of true healing. This strong sub-current within my church community studiously avoids hurt at all cost, even to the long-term harm of everyone around them. For these, to rebuke remains the highest form of offense. Sucking up a very real sinful status quo between two people seems more the norm. The deep cracks of avoidance and resentment pervade this institution.
They ‘strain at a gnats(hurts) while swallowing camels(harm)’.
We often live by a comparative standard of ‘normal’. If our dysfunction seems a bit less than average, or better than the guy next to us, we decide we’re okay. We need to pursue health instead. I learned this from a talk on abuse by my friend, Peter Roise.
Avoiding all pain is not health. It’s harm. To ourselves and others.
Harm is sin. Scripture says we can avoid it. After all there’s no temptation given us where God’s not provided an escape. Likewise he sets before us healthy hurt as a path we must walk through. We sin by denying ourselves the discomfort required to heal properly.
Faithfulness heals. Friendship heals too.
When we bypass healing hurt, we deny true friendship and faith.
What sort of wounds do we inflict? What ought we accept?
A true friend will faithfully wound and embrace hurt in order NOT to harm another. Faithful wounds equal the necessary hardships leading to health. If someone avoids hurt, while causing harm to others…. not friendly. Not faithful either.