I want everyone to like me. Translation: I crave man’s approval.
I want to avoid conflict and hurting people’s feelings. I just want us all to sing, “All You Need is Love.” I came from the generation that produced the immortal lyrics, “Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together try to love one another right now” (name the band). But my selfish craving at times has made me a poor friend.
Not long ago, I had lunch with a pastor we’ll call Mike and another friend who goes to his church, whom we’ll call Harry. Our waitress made some mistakes with our meal and Harry made a couple of less than gracious remarks to her. Later that day Mike called to get my thoughts on what happened so he could call Harry with some loving correction.
I pictured an awkward conversation, so I said to Mike, “I’m glad YOU’RE his pastor,” to which he said, “More than that, I’m his friend.”
Mike’s words pulled me up short, riveting me on a truth I had temporarily lost sight of. I had seen Mike’s going to Harry as a distasteful duty along the lines of snaking out a clogged toilet. But Mike obviously thought of going to Harry as an act of friendship.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (PR 27.6)
Enemies kiss with flattery. True friends “wound” by caring enough to gently encourage, exhort and even correct. David said:
Let a righteous man strike me, it is a kindness; let him rebuke me, it is oil for my head (Ps 141.5)
When a godly person “strikes” her friend with a rebuke it is an act of kindness, like applying healing oil to her head. When Nathan rebuked David for his adultery with Bathsheba then arranging her husband’s death and covering it up, it was like lancing a boil—his sin gushed out, he confessed, repented and was set free from his guilt and the misery of living a double life.
Sometimes love should cover others’ sins. But at other times it is the kindest thing to go and gently wound them. Not out of anger but friendship.
Lord Jesus, please help me overcome my craving for approval, comfort and safety. Help me bring your kindness and healing to others. Help me be a good friend.