February 3rd, 2003

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Wounds from a friend

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
   but an enemy multiplies kisses.

—Proverbs 27:6


Relationships are messy, and they don't get less so when we are brought into the family of God. We have to check our hearts often, seeking to speak the truth in love. It's dangerous. It would often be easier to be silent with one another, but silent edification is a difficult if not impossible prospect.

This proverb implies that friends can hurt each other, a concept foreign to our culture's fluffy view of love. Why, then, can wounds from a friend be trusted? Perhaps in the hope that they can hurt but not harm. A friend may wound me by being truly and authentically present in relationship with me— we come up against one another. Likewise, an enemy may say all the right things, or never say anything to ruffle my feathers and disturb the order of my world. Do they edify me? No— their deception begins in not being truly present with me, and who knows where it may end? That's where damage is done.

All that being said, I hate when I hurt people. I hate even risking it, but much of that isn't nobility; it's often my fear of not being liked. Sometimes my challenge is to really show up in my relationships, to try to be me over being liked or being right. My need to be liked takes a back seat to being loved by Christ; my need to be right is overshadowed by the righteousness of Christ.

Christians are given the magnificent freedom to be ourselves with one another. We're able to let go of trying to sell or justify ourselves— we're already perfectly loved and completely justified. We can enjoy this together. We can even be different and disagree, which frees us to really listen to one another and not lose who we are. We are the same in the grace He has given us, and that is immesurably more than enough.

Lord, forgive us from holding back from one another, for settling for veneers of politeness, for failing to bring our faces to face another in truth and love, for our fear. Praise God that He has delivered us from this bondage. May He give us the courage to walk out of the prison together.
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