Justin Taylor recommends a very helpful two-part blog post from Keith Simon, giving biblically grounded practical wisdom on the nature of true friendship and criticism, building off of Proverbs 27:6: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
The first post explores the paradox that, according to this verse, we can often confuse a friend and an enemy. Keith gives some excellent counsel on how to approach someone with correction.
The second post explores why we often refuse to correct. He also suggests a humble and helpful thing to say to a few close friends (or spouse, or children, or parents):
I know that this sounds crazy but I really trust you and value your perspective. So I want to invite you to share things with me that will be difficult for me to hear. When (not if) you see sin in my life that you don’t think that I’m aware of, please point it out to me. When (not if) you see me making mistakes with my kids or my spouse, please tell me. Everything is fair game. Nothing is off limits.
I wish that I could promise that I would immediately respond with humility and repentance but that might not always be true. But I will promise that I won’t hold your comments against you and let it ruin our friendship. I want you to know that I will see your willingness to say hard things to me as a sign that you are a real friend and not an enemy giving false or superficial praise.
Are you a true friend? Do you have true friends? Why or why not?