One defining characteristic of the millennial generation is the overall unwillingness to be challenged. You have experienced this yourself more than likely, or someone just came to mind. And it grates at you, remembering how hard it is to approach someone who is in the wrong or headed down a wrong path.
As Christians, we are supposed to be welcoming to rebuke and reprove. But often, I find that Christians are no different than most of the world. We are just as defensive as most anyone else, even when we believe what
Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” We tend to prefer deceitful kisses over a faithful wound.
Why is that?
Well, for one, it sucks to be wrong. That’s just human nature. It’s probably a bit of a fear response, simply from the lack of certainty. Perhaps it’s easier to move forward in life believing everything I do is right. If it wasn’t right, I probably wouldn’t do it. But, what happens when we are faced with the possibility that maybe we aren’t right?
Well, first, let’s address the defense of sin. Christians will defend their sin. It is unavoidable this side of heaven. Sin makes us incredibly self-righteous, so instead of pointing the finger at myself when my life falls into chaos, I’m more likely to point at anyone or anything else around me. This self-righteousness manifests itself in blame-shifting, excuses, arrogance, malice, slander, pride, etc. See, the sin is just a symptom of a deeper heart issue.
When a friend approaches you about a sin they see in your life, your knee-jerk reaction will be to defend. If you do defend yourself, you will become unapproachable and people won’t bring you honest admonishment. What a terrible place to be; no soul should live in a place of unfailing “unfailure”. And truthfully, no one wants to be close with someone so arrogant.
If you are a Christian, and a friend of yours rebukes you of a sin they have witnessed in you, fight the urge to fight your friend and turn that fight toward the sin they see. Consider what they say, evaluate the truth in it, and examine what Jesus did and what God’s word tells us. Also recognize what your friend has done in their honesty with you: good friends don’t turn a blind eye. Any friend who tolerates or otherwise allows you to indulge in things that don’t glorify God is not a friend.
But, what if the rebuke is “not sin” vs. “not sin”? What happens there, when you receive a reprimand that lands in a spot that is not clearly discussed in the Bible? Well, this is where sanctification plays a big role. The longer we pursue Christ, the more like Him we will look. We can examine the fruits of the Spirit in our lives, and the fruit that we bear. We can turn over in our minds what our close ones share with us, acknowledging that we are sinners, broken, in need of a Savior, prone to wander, knowing we need much mercy and grace. But again, it’s important to remember just how loving it is to receive a loving rebuke. It is truly a faithful wound, but those wounds can be trusted.
So ask yourself today, am I approachable? Do those closest to me feel the freedom to correct me? Am I unwilling to be challenged? Do I believe that wounds can be faithful, or do I prefer kisses from an enemy?
Be mindful of this: no one wants to be friends with someone who can’t be challenged. It is impossible to have a genuine relationship with someone you can’t be genuine with. Examine your own heart today, and ask the Lord to give you a new sense of humility.
“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” -1 John 1:8
“If you have quit being defensive and are now willingly and humbly approachable, you know that transforming grace has visited you.” – Paul David Tripp
Photo by Jorge Flores