Monday, May 5, 2008

Iron Sharpens Iron

I ended up relaxing most of last night and did not get in the Sunday post, so I might make this an extended dialogue. The topic is a tough one—and that is “better the wounds of a friend than the kisses of an enemy.” This comes from Proverbs 27:6, and the concept of it can be seen throughout society when the definition of friendship includes either a.) giving your friends that occasional “kick in the butt” when they need it or b.) receiving the proverbial kick in the butt and not lashing out at the friend. Thus, two major issues exist here: delivering the rebuke and receiving the rebuke. Ultimately, the concept of the proverb is that this level of friendship is one in which friends hold each other accountable, help each other avoid mistakes, and in the end, the wounds, or rebukes of a friend cause both to grow in life and are worth so much more than the empty accolades or praises of an enemy that merely looks to flatter and ensnare.

It is not an easy thing to be on either end of the “better wounds.” I have been on both, and can attest that it isn’t easy, but it is rewarding, it is comforting, and I have become a better person because of it. Friends have kept me from making serious mistakes, they have offered me hard, but accurate counsel, and I have tried to do the same back. There is nothing like the personal battle that goes back and forth in one’s mind when you must confront a dear friend. You know you want to do what is right by them, but you never want to “hurt” someone either, and sometimes the truth hurts. Of course there is always the nagging question of, “how will the react? Will they hate me? Will this end our friendship?” Sure, they are things to think through and weigh with before you make that decision, absolutely. But, if you know what you have to say will make that person’s life better, help them make better life decisions, and they truly are that dear to you, do it. Better yet, in your friendships CREATE room for that. Tell that accountability partner of yours that they have the room to do it, that frees them to help you, and vice versa. I’m not talking about you critiquing each little thing in their life, but having the freedom between you and that good friend to “kick each other in the butt” as needed. I personally had an issue recently when I beat the friend to the punch in that I realized some of the issues she was going to address and fixed some of it, and, not backing down she still let me know that what some of her concerns were (because things do not go away completely over night) and it helped validate some of my own personal concerns. She was willing to address critical issues with me…and I cherish that. As iron sharpens iron, so does man sharpen man. (Proverbs 27:17)

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