by Shayla Asselin
Who’s that one friend who just tells you like it is? You know the one who loves you too much to just tell you what you want to hear but rather tells you what you need to hear? I hope at least one person just popped into your mind. If you don’t have a friend like that, do you actually have good friends?
I may have jumped ahead a little bit. Let me go back a few months and explain what I’m trying to say.
Have you ever been in a conversation with friends and said something that wasn’t becoming of a child of God? Have you ever asked a friend for their advice about a certain situation? Has that friend then paused and compassionately corrected you or given you Godly, sound advice? I have. It’s tough. I’ve been the one being corrected and the one trying to correct and I honestly don’t know which one is harder. But I believe that in order for us to have truly beneficial relationships we need to be open to accepting both of these roles.
Proverbs 6:4 acknowledges the discomfort this correction can cause. It reads, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” It is better to receive honest criticism from a friend, even if it hurts, than to be deceived by flattery from an enemy. The idea is that true friends have our best interests at heart and want to see us improve, while enemies may pretend to be kind but are actually trying to harm us. It is important to surround ourselves with true friends who will give honest feedback and help us grow.
Proverbs 27:17 reads, ”Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” This convicting passage of scripture illustrates the accountability aspect of friendship.
This leads us to a very valuable component of growing close personal relationships with other people. God-honoring friendships are designed to help both parties grow in Christ-like maturity. This process is not just pointing out perceived weaknesses in someone else. This sharpening must come with a heartfelt desire to help our friend and in the process receive some input that leads to personal improvement as well. It’s important to note that none of us are called to only be the corrector. We must also be willing to accept correction.
I also believe that correction is best received when there has already been a connection. Meaning that friendship requires an investment on our part. Statistically, people will follow your example quicker than they will take your advice. Before we correct, we have to be willing to be vulnerable with our friends. We have to be willing to open ourselves up for inspection. Vulnerability and authenticity are scary words but they are necessary components to a fruitful friendship.
I pray that we value our friendships enough that we are open to sharpening each other. I pray that we encourage our friends to become better representatives of Christ. I pray that we love our friends enough to correct and be corrected. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. But it’s necessary.