Verse: Proverbs 27:5, 6, 17
Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
My aunt came to church this week. She lives in FL so I don't get to see her very often. One of her specialties is public speaking. She actually teaches teachers how to teach (say that fast three times!). She hadn't heard me speak in a number of years, so I asked her if she would be willing to evaluate me.
There was hesitation on her part, I could tell, because I think everyone in that situation would wonder - "Does he really want honest feedback? Or does he just want me to tell him how good he is?"
In our culture right now, it seems like the concept of "iron sharpening iron" is on the way out. It's more like "soft pillows protect iron" where we surround ourselves with people who recite what we agree about, or "grenades destroy iron" where we don't even take time to listen and learn, and just go straight to character assassination.
The Bible, though, encourages us to have friends who are willing to speak truth into our lives. Friends who are willing to call us on behavior that doesn't line up with the faith we profess. Call us on when we speak words that aren't full of love and grace. We are called to have friends who speak encouragement to us - not just "you are doing great" - but encouragement that pushes us, challenges us, and strengthens us.
This takes vulnerability and humility on our part. It's not easy to be challenged. It's not always fun to take "wounds from a friend." But the goal here isn't an easy life. The goal is becoming more like Jesus. And in order to do that, we need each other. God speaks loudly through other believers.
So the question is: "Do you have anyone in your life who has permission to speak to you like this?" Do you have friends and mentors who can speak words that sharpen you? Who can speak words that challenge you? And secondly, do you actively seek out their wisdom, counsel, and advice? If not we need to ask ourselves....why not?
(BTW - My aunt did give me some great feedback.)
I pray that you, Lord, would give me courage and wisdom to hear words that sharpen me and help me grow to be more like you!