Wounds from a Friend

Kathryn Tack, Volunteer Writer, South Barrington | January 3, 2024

“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
2 Timothy 4:2-5

Some of us are more comfortable with confrontation than others. No matter our comfort levels, there are times when confrontation is the most loving thing we can do for another person. 

Similarly, being rebuked (a term we see throughout the Bible that means reprimand) by another person can be uncomfortable. Our openness and willingness to respond to correction in this discomfort are critical components of our character. Sometimes, a friend’s words may take the form of a chisel and be used to rub off a rough edge. While the process may be painful, it may also be necessary. Indeed, the apostle Paul urged Timothy not only to “correct” and “encourage” but to “rebuke” as well. It is the most loving assistance I have had as a leader and initiated the greatest times of growth.

It’s not that I like a rebuke, but as a Christ follower, I want to follow Christ’s teachings, “If your brother sins, rebuke him and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3). Sounds like a command that is important for our well-being. 

Proverbs says, “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding” (Proverbs 15:31). That is what I want. To live among the wise and to have understanding. Therefore, it will take painful moments to work through these conversations. 

How do you react when someone rebukes you? The Bible says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6). Are you sometimes afraid of “wounding” your friends through words of exhortation? “Friend” is the important word. We must be certain that we’ve invested enough in a close professional or personal relationship to ensure that a rebuke will be helpful, even if it is painful. The most pointed rebukes to me that I have been willing to receive or give were reserved for the people I care most about, and they cared about me.

Next Steps

Take another look at the passage and review Paul’s approach to exhorting his disciple, Timothy. How do you think Timothy responded to Paul’s words. We know that through the Holy Spirit’s work in his life, Timothy became a great leader in the early church. Is there someone with whom you are in relationship  who might be encouraged by your loving delivery of words of exhortation, kindness and truth?