Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Have I Established Myself as a Friend?

At lunchtime family worship today, we were back at the beginning of Proverbs 27 (It's Dec 27), and we worked through the first nine verses.

There's much here about our need for counsel--even, in context, the teaching in v7 that we should foster in ourselves hunger for counsel so that we will always benefit from it... no matter how poorly given.

But in making application with my children, the Lord opened my eyes to see something in v6 that I'm not quite sure I had ever noticed was in the Scripture here:
"Faithful are the wounds of a friend" (Prov 27:6)
So, I was pointing out that when a friend wounds you, even if they have timed their critique badly, even if they have worded it poorly, and used an unkind tone in the moment, that they are still a friend. And that it is still friendship to help you grow: that we should be willing to overlook everything else in there, assume the kindest intent, and not only receive it as a blessing from God but even decide to view it as a faithfulness from a friend.

Then it occurred to me: how do people know that I am a friend? I had used myself as an example to my children. For literally each one of their entire lives, there has been rejoicing with them in their joy, grieving with them in their pain, and words of affection, looks of affection, tokens of affection.

I am glad to be able to say that there is no doubt in my mind that my children know me to be not just their father but also their friend. How sad that precious few fathers can say that. And it is something that must be maintained... if there has been some lag in this maintenance, and then the wound comes in the midst of the lag, could I really fault them for wondering if I am still a friend?

But then what about members in my congregation? What about neighbors? What about people with whom I have some regular interaction and may need to be useful to them some day in the way of critique? If I had to wound them today, do I have good reason to think from our relationship as a whole, and especially our recent interactions, that they know that I am a friend?

What a blessed thing it is to foster and maintain Christian friendship! And, if we hope to be able to give wounds that are counted as faithful, what a most necessary thing it is as well!

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