Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Danger of "Ears Only Friends"

"A listener." This is one of the best qualities someone can have as a friend. The ability and desire to sit and listen to the ideas, complaints, and hurts of a friend; to empathize, and to hear the intent behind the words.

But I think there is another important side to friendship that we often ignore:
Proverbs 27:5 - "Better is open rebuke than hidden love."
Proverbs 27:6 - "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses."
Prov 28:23 - "He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue."

Good friends sometimes need to challenge, correct, and even rebuke each other. It is pretty clear that none of us are perfect. In fact, all of us are pretty messed up. Even mature Christians still have blind spots of sin. Part of what God uses to make us more like him is the loving correction and rebuke of those that are close to us.

When our friends and family will never challenge us. When all they do is listen, we are in danger. We are in danger of settling in to patterns of sin that are destructive and do not glorify God. We need friends that love us enough to challenge us and correct us sometimes.

What do you think? Do you agree that we need this? Why do you think it doesn't happen? What are some ways we can be better at both correcting and taking correction?

Prov 15:31 - "He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise."


RobinDayle said...

I whole-heartedly agree...although this is easier for some than for others.
I'm horrible at this...the people-pleasing, don't-rock-the-boat side harmony side of me wins almost every time. Almost.
I miss you guys...I learn so much from you both.
Love you.

Keeper of the blog said...

Here is what I think. If you sin then shame on you. If you sin and I saw it coming but chose not to intervene then I would be just as guilty as you. It is sort of like if I saw a man park his car on train tracks. The train could come jamming down the tracks any moment but I decide to stop and think: "Am I being bigoted by telling him to move? Should I mind my own business and let him make his own choices?" CRUNCH! I am guilty of murder.

sherry said...

This is a sensitive subject that I don't think I've ever discussed, but I've often pondered. I appreciate (and dread) my friends who "tell it like it is."

The key is love. If I feel like someone is correcting me to prove me wrong, it hurts. If someone is correcting me as a loving sister, it still hurts. The difference? I might actually listen to the second one. Stephanie is a friend who I can count on to call me out. I love that about her because I know that she cares deeply about me, and isn't correcting to preach, but because she wants good things for me.

Mark and Stephanie said...

Thanks for your thoughts on this everyone. As Sherry rightly noted, there is more to this than just "telling it how it is." In fact, I've never met someone who described themselves as a "tell it like it is" person that wasn't rude and unkind.

THe point is not JUST to tell the truth. It is to tell the "truth in LOVE" (Ephsians 4:15). The key is the balance. It is not loving to hold back a needed word of correction from a friend that is blind to a flaw. They need the truth. However, it is not loving to thoughtlessly call someone out, without considering the best time, place, and way to do it. The goal must always be for the good of the person, not just to do a drive by rebuke. Like Sherry said, it is hard enough to receive correction from a friend we know loves us. It is extra difficult to take it from an arrogant person who doesn't seem to care about us (although I am learning that there are things God can teach me in nearly every rebuke and attack if I am humble enough to consider it).

Last thought for now. Prayer is important. I think it wise to pray for a situation for a time before confronting it. And then to pray for God's grace as we prepare to talk to our friend about it. This helps me check my heart and motivation. It helps make sure the motivation is purely for the good of the other.

Rocky and Suzanne said...

Hey Guys,

Thanks for always being so honoring to the Lord with all your posts. I'm so thankful for your friendship. Say "hi" to little Hope for me. We love you guys.

Suzanne and Rockstar Clark

mereaprice said...

I agree as well. However, I think our rebuke needs to be prayerfully considered and it needs to be pointing out something that is sinful. I think that friends often react or think they need to point out "wrong doing" in other peoples lives because of hurt feelings. Examine the motive, did this just bother me? or is it sin against God? I realize my sensitivity has caused me to say things in "confrontation" that was not a prayerfully considered rebuke, but a reaction. Anyway, that is my thought on the issue.
Hope is really cute, by the way.