“Faithful are the wounds of a friend…” (Prov. 27:6) is an often quoted verse when we want to bring something “delicate” to a friend or family member. Yes, faithful are the wounds of a friend. But let’s go back a step. Let’s consider if we are a faithful friend in the first place. If we are, then we are qualified to give a faithful wound.
A faithful friend is one who loves at all times, who doesn’t desert in the hard times, who has a long-standing record of kindness and sacrifice. If we have been there in thick and in thin, in good times and bad, then we may be qualified to offer some criticism to our friend.
Finding fault is the easiest thing in the world. Everyone can do it. We can find fault in our friends, in our relatives, in our own children and parents and siblings. No one has to teach a class on fault-finding. So when you see something in a friend that you believe needs to be corrected, first consider whether you are just on a fault-finding spree. Lay off for a while. Pray about it. Look in the mirror and see if you have any faults of your own. Don’t be hasty in bringing a rebuke to a friend.
Is this fault bothering you? If it is, then you might be tempted to correct it for your own sake. Love covers a multitude of sins. A friend loves at all times. Do you have the love to cover it? If love cannot cover it, that either means that you are not being loving, or it means that it is such a grievous sin that it needs to be addressed and not covered. These are the options.
Is this fault making your friend look bad to others? Then you might have a good motive for bringing the correction.
If you are tempted to tell others about the fault rather than bringing it to your friend first, then you are not a faithful friend. Faithfulness equals loyalty, and loyalty wants to protect the reputation of your friend.
Beware correcting heart attitudes. Only God can see the heart. Don’t attribute motives to your friend and rebuke them for pride or envy. How do you know? Quite often we are guilty of the very thing we think we see in others.
Pray about these things before you bring a correction or a rebuke. It really is a wound. It hurts. Be sure that it is worth it. Be certain of your own heart and mind first. A faithful friend wounds with humility and kindness. That’s a tall order! We can’t confront our friends casually and wrap it up with a “faithful are the wounds of a friend” comment. A friend understands the effect of the correction and brings it carefully and humbly, exercising good stewardship over the situation.
The right kind of wound, brought by a real friend, can be a true blessing.