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Friendly Wounds

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted January 15, 2014

RELIGION – A part of my job as pastor that I enjoy is getting to be with people in the hospital. I hate to see church members sick or in pain, but it is a real privilege to be able to bring the presence and peace of God into the lives of the people God has placed in my care. The only problem is that usually in my administration of these duties I tell a lie. Well, maybe not technically.

I will see people in the morning before their surgery.  They got up at 4:30, have had no coffee, no makeup, wearing a gown, did not sleep well and they are a little anxious.  Then I come to talk and pray with them before there procedure. Maybe even laugh a bit after they get their dose of happy juice.

The lie comes in the next day. I go to see them the next day as they recuperate and I tell them “You look good.” And at times, this stamen is a bit of a stretch. I mean less than 24 hours ago they had someone open their body up do some work and then close them back up. I guess I could be saying “You look good” compared to the guy that Mercantile was rolling out the back door. But that is beside the point.

My point is that many people voluntarily chose to allow a surgeon to inflict well purposed harm to them. Surgery is not mandatory. The person going under the knife knows that it will hurt and recovery will be hard, but they still go through with it. Why? Because they have the hope that the end result of well purposed harm will be that they are better as they go forward in the future.

We are studying the book of Proverbs on Sunday Mornings at Antioch Baptist Church. One of our verses this past week was Proverbs 27:5-6 “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.  (6)  Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy “ Do you see what the metaphors are? They’re deliberately vivid and paradoxical. Think about it: friendly wounds and wounding kisses.
Now think above to the illustration of the surgeon inflicting well intentioned and purposeful pain.  What the writer of Proverbs is trying to teach is a crucial truth of friendship that is largely lost in society today. Being a friend means caring enough to confront a friend who has strayed off the path and are making foolishness choices.  A friendly wound is a metaphor for words that your friend needs that are going to be painful for that friend to hear, and yet they have to hear them.

Now the response of many will be “I don’t want to get involved with all of that”. Some might even say “Oh, I love the person too much to tell them the truth,” but what that really mean is, “I love myself too much to have to go through that.”

Think if Jesus had adopted this same philosophy. He was not a man of “hidden love” he showed his love on the cross. He knew the pain of a kiss from an enemy, Judas, who once was a close friend and follower. Jesus today wants to wound us; he wants to wound us of self-love that values peace over doing the right thing. Jesus desires to wound our self-love that would keep us from hearing corrective wisdom from a friend.  He wants us to follow in His example and seek to bring the people God places in our lives closer to Him and keep them from straying away from His plan for their lives.

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