Proverbs 27:5

Better is open rebuke
    than hidden love.  

This proverb is not about employing diplo-speak when a Reuben-esque woman tries on a tiny two piece swim suit and asks for your honest opinion. Nor is it about the hilarity which breaks out when a guy discovers his totally wrong decision in front of the clued-in friends who watched him crash and burn. No, this is not about concealing faults from a friend.

Open versus hidden are the operative words; rebuke and love, the difficult counterpoint. It would be easier just to reverse the words. However, when forced to choose, whichever wins out may define your relationship as friends. Too often it is easier to just let it go and promise yourself to speak up the next time. Or perhaps your perspective does not take in the depth of your friend’s pain… or, conversely, the ugliness of their actions or words.

But if the Lord has given you a correct understanding, should you keep your heart (and mouth) closed and personally suffer the heart-burn? Or might Jesus want to use you to point out their fault and launch them on a better way of living and a new pathway to glorify God? Whether the words come out in the form of sharp rebuke or gentle words of correction, the love and concern emanating from your heart will be plain for all to see.

One word of caution: Your friend may respond poorly and your friendship forfeited for a season or longer. Jesus understands this. He spoke of the need to repent and change (Matt 4:17) and come to him for the help to do so (Matt 11:28). This was not quite what people wanted to hear, and many turned away from his offer of health. But those who trust Jesus and serve him will find themselves embraced by his loving, honest friendship (John 15:15).  

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