“Wounds inflicted by the correction of a friend prove he is faithful; the abundant kisses of an enemy show his lies” (Prov. 27:6).
I don’t like getting criticized. To be honest, it hurts my ego. It’s okay if I find fault with myself for doing dumb stuff but I’d prefer if other people didn’t. Still, if I’m honest I have to also admit that I need it. I need someone else who will keep me accountable for my words and my actions so that they line up with what I profess.
I see so many posts on various social media that basically say, “I do what I want and don’t you dare judge me”, i.e. say anything that might be construed as negative or critical in any way (or even someone who tells you the honest truth). While Jesus did speak against those who are judgmental or who are critical and mean-spirited, I do think it’s equally wrong and dangerous to live outside of any kind of accountability. After all, as a pastor once said, “The first person you lie to is yourself.”
You and I both need people who will get in our faces (in a loving manner) and call us out when we speak and act in ways contrary to our true selves. We need people who will say, “What you’re doing doesn’t match what you say you believe and that’s giving the faith you profess a bad name.”
True, the ability to speak that way has to be granted. Only true friends to whom I give the right can speak this way. And no, being a prophet doesn’t give you the right to trample over people’s feelings and be careless with your words. Prophets always spoke God’s truth in love and often spoke God’s judgment through heavy hearts and tears.
I’ve heard that for every rebuking/correctional word you speak you should always give two encouraging or complimentary words. And I do believe it’s never a good idea to try to rebuke or correct another person via any other forms of communication other than face-to-face. E-mails and texts and posts are good in their way, but they leave out facial expressions and tone of voice so vital to any kind of constructive criticism.
Most of all, remember this. The God who chases after you isn’t running you down to tell you what a no-good lowdown dirty dog you are. His words to you tonight are this: you are still My Beloved, the apple of My eye, and I thought you were worth dying for. I love you just as you are but I refuse to leave you that way. I won’t ever stop with you until you look just like My Son Jesus.”