Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tip from Russia

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. -Proverb 27:6

Why does this even need to be said?

Because people make this mistake everyday!

A deceitful enemy likely will flatter you - kiss up to you -  to get their way. Many manipulators are charming, and capable of sounding appealing, but they want what they want. You are just a tool to get it. Maybe they dislike you already and are also trying to get your guard down to take their revenge.

When does a true friend wound you? When they have to tell you a hard truth - to save you from yourself - or when you have hurt them. 

Hard truths are called that because they aren't what our itching ears find soothing. It isn't what we wanted to hear. We will be tempted to find excuses not to listen, to dismiss the message and the messenger. Friendships have ended over hard truths, especially when the recipient becomes abusive.

When a real friend is injured they will tell you about the faults they believed caused it. They want you to care that they are hurt and work with them to heal the breach between you.  The friend's speech in this case isn't likely to appeal to your ego, and while they are upset, they aren't going to be nearly so much fun to be around. So the kisses and maneuverings of enemies can end up seeming much more pleasing to your pride than honest talk from someone who genuinely had your back - until you treated them badly.

Too often those with higher social standing are tempted to placate their 'fun' enemies - who know how to 'kiss up' for tidbits and position but won't expect too much in the way of integrity- and blow off honest friends and followers who would challenge them to a higher standard of community leadership. Sometimes they don't even wise up to the difference after they've been done. In fact, they may actually justify being rotten to old friends by pointing at the traitors they chose and calling this typical behavior. Its too bad, but it happens.

Since we each of us rule our own little lives, we may fall for the most frequent version of this. The demon on one shoulder whispers how much fun it would be to spoil yourself with some treat you want, and the Holy Spirit warns that you have family and other obligations you should handle now instead. Maybe the treat isn't even a sin in itself, but the selfish attitude tempting you would be. Maybe you want to go out to a movie and Jesus is calling you to that Bible Study. Are you going to listen to the hard truth of what you should do from the One Who Loves You or give in to a voice that will tell you what you want to hear, but has only your ruin in mind?