Sometimes “nice” words can deeply wound. Sometimes “hurtful” words can build up.
Let me explain. A friend telling us that we have food in our teeth may make us embarrassed, but it is for our own good. We can run to the bathroom and remove the spinach and move on with our life. Alternatively, a person who would tell you “you look so great today” may make us feel good about ourselves, but the reality is the food is still there.
Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”
What this verse is not giving us permission to do is to be rude. We need to speak truth to our loved one in love. Truth without love is harsh and not in line with the example that God has given us. The Bible is filled with truth, and yes, most if not all that truth can be hard to digest. But as much as truth flows through the Bible, love flows just as much.
Many of us have grown up with our moms instructing us, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” While I appreciate the wisdom of biting your tongue, I would slightly amend the saying. My version goes like this…
If you can’t say anything kind don’t say anything at all.
Kindness and niceness are very different words. Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. And you know what? Sometimes being friendly, generous, and considerate can actually hurt another person’s feelings. But it is still necessary.
Sometimes kindness hurts. But that’s because kindness isn’t just about feeling good, it is about what is good for us.
Niceness, on the other hand, is only about making us feel good. There is a lack of depth and substance in a nice comment compared to a kind comment.
Let’s say that you rob a bank and go out and buy a brand-new car. A frenemy who didn’t care about your soul, or the quality of your relationship with God, or even whether or not you went to jail might just simply compliment you on your beautiful new car. But a friend, a true friend would kindly and lovingly tell you that you have done wrong.
We need more people in our lives that are willing to, in love and kindness, tell us the hard truths. We need to know when there is food in our teeth, when we have made mistakes, and when we have drifted in our faith.
So, friends please be kind to me. Please do not be afraid to lovingly wound me. But also, please be sure that your criticism is constructive and not just simply complaining.
We all need to welcome the wounds of our true friends because they are ultimately for our good. This is a scary thing because it makes us vulnerable and it causes us to trust others with our feelings. But eventually, if we are willing to put our pride aside, we will grow for the better.
Be thankful for the wounds of a friend. Beware the kisses of an enemy.