This morning’s devotion comes from Peter Moore. 

Faithful are the wounds of a friend. (Proverbs 27:6, KJV)

We, of course, expect wounds from our enemies. And the person without enemies is the person without convictions, without conscience, without passion. “Beware when all men speak well of you,” said Jesus, a man who, as we know from the Gospels, knew an enemy when he saw one.

But it is wounds from those who are our friends that surprise us and hurt us the most. We expect our friends to be trustworthy, kind, understanding, and forgiving. When they are not, we are often undone. The hurt we feel goes deeper the closer that friend was to us, because the magnitude of the hurt is always measured by the magnitude of the loyalty that it breached. It’s what made Jesus’ death so utterly painful. “He came to his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11).

Booths_CaesarIn Proverbs 27:17, the writer hails the virtues of friendship: “As iron sharpens iron, so sharpens a man the countenance of his friend” (KJV). We know, therefore, that the writer is no cynic, looking at relationships as unimportant and expendable. No, he knows that, difficult though they are, they are critical to our well-being and growth.

So maybe the writer here is talking about those wounds that are aimed at our betterment, and not at our destruction. Occasionally someone “cares enough to confront,” and we are given the grace to change. Not often. Most of the time we react, and we take those hurts far too personally.

But what if God is our great wound-er? As the writer of the Hebrews puts it, quoting a Psalm (94:12), “the Lord disciplines him whom he loves” (12:6). As misguided as our friends’ judgments often are, even they can be used by God to help us.

I recall a time when I got a verbal thrashing from someone of another race whom I had treated less than respectfully. The person was doing something stupid, but that didn’t excuse my abrasiveness, which very likely had an unhealthy dose of racism built into it. The reason why honesty hurts so much is because we believe something else about ourselves. We do not think that we are capable of the offense we have caused. I certainly don’t think of myself as a racist, but I clearly came across as one to my friend.

What if we had a different view of ourselves? What if we agreed with the Bible’s low, low anthropology? We would see ourselves as capable of anything and, by default, guilty. When confronted with the truth by another we would not respond with defensiveness but rather with humility and repentance. The forgiveness found at the cross sets us free to do exactly that.