Some people will say they are your friends, when they are not. No one is really immune to this. Even Jesus had a friend like this, “His name was Judas.” If you don’t know about Judas, Judas was one of the twelve disciples and he betrayed Jesus with a kiss (just so you know kissing on the cheek was/ is an eastern greeting much like a handshake is today in the west)
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:5-6 ESV
Sometimes your friends are the ones who tell you what you don’t want to hear. Sometimes the people who tell you what you want to hear are your enemies.
There was a little bird that was flying south for the winter. He had a late start and the snow had already started to fall. The snow quickly became ice on his wings and grounded the poor little bird in a barnyard. He was sitting there muttering to himself, “Stupid snow” wondering what he was going to do to get out of this mess.
Just then he saw a big old heifer walk his way. He thought, “Cow’s are nice, this cow will help me.” She lazily walked over to where he was, and then walked just passed him. His wings were frozen to the ground now and he couldn’t move. He craned his head back to see if she had left him behind but as he looked straight up he saw her tail go up and then all of the sudden the sky grew dark and the poor little bird found itself covered in manure (cow poop)… The bird was extremely mad at the cow!
Full of negative self talk the bird thought, “now everything is worse! Life really stinks. Not only am I stuck in a barnyard, but this cow just unloaded on me… what a mean and selfish old cow.” But despite the stink, the manure had another effect. The hot steamy pile of poo also served to melt the ice off of the bird’s wings! The bird soon realized this and began to tweet. “I’m free!, Tweet, tweet, I’m free! Tweet, tweet.” Just then a cat was passing by and heard this pile of poo tweeting. The cat dug in as fast as he could. The bird now realizing that someone was there helping him out of the poo tweeted even louder… then soon as the bird was free…. the cat ate it!
There are a few lessons from this story that are clear in this passage as well.
- Not everyone who dumps poo on you does it for your bad. Sometimes what you need feels like someone just dumped poo on an already bad situation. A friend will rebuke you to your face.
- Not everyone who is eager to help get you out of poo is there for your good. There are people that will say things and it will feel good to hear them, but they are serving themselves by saying them… not you.
- Finally, when you are in the middle of what you feel like is poo… don’t tweet about it! The people who respond and tell you what you want to hear… are not your friends. Another Proverb says it like this:
A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet. (Proverbs 29:5 ESV)
True friends are honest. They don’t always take your side. They are willing to tell you when you are wrong… But that’s not what we like to hear, is it? We love putting people around us that tell us what we want to hear. We want to be right in our own convictions and opinions. Solomon also says to take the high road. It is better to speak the truth now and offend someone short term than help them go down a destructive path.
Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue. (Proverbs 28:23 ESV)
One of the things I do as a pastor is that I marry people. Part of that is pre-marriage counseling. I always tell the couple up front, “If I don’t think you will make it, I won’t do your wedding.” I’d rather risk offending them and let them work on whatever issue it is that caused the red flag then flatter them for the moment and see them get hurt later! There have been times where someone else did the wedding, then the couple hit thr roadblock I warned them about and they have come back for marriage counseling and advice because I told them the truth to begin with.
People who care about you will confront you, people who care about what you think of THEM will only tell you what you want to hear. Life is too short to entertain deep level friendships where people only tell you what you want to hear. Look for people who will tell you the truth, even when it hurts to hear it. (By the way,