Lord, today help me to be a bearer of hope, a champion of justice, and an agent of reconciliation.
Read PROVERBS 24:23-34
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Hypocrisy desires to seem good rather than to be so; honesty desires to be good rather than seem so” (Arthur Warwick).
I ran v. 26 past a friend—who immediately said, “It depends who you’re talking to. There are some people I’d rather hear a lie from!” It’s an arresting verse because kissing on the lips doesn’t seem like biblical language. From where I am, it certainly seems a bit sensual, perhaps even indicating some sexual passion.
From where the wise teacher was, however, it would be nothing of the sort. It’s a brilliant way to speak about the heartwarming reliability of old friends or close family—you know you can trust what their lips utter. It’s like a sweet and welcome greeting from a trusted, close friend. We can understand the phrase if we see the opposite: the cynical kiss of Absalom (2 Sam. 15:5,6) or, of course, Judas (Luke 22:47,48).
It’s challenging, really. Have the people who have let me get close done the safe thing? It’s surely a defining aspect of friendships that they are built on honesty. Not brutal, thoughtless cruelty, but not deception, either. “I thought that I could trust you. I thought you were my friend,” is the pain-filled cry of a suddenly “ex”-friend (Psa. 55:12-14). This means that I might need to be more frank and less insecure in a friendship. I must speak the truth because I love; I will also speak the truth lovingly. Maybe it’s a friend who’s going off the rails spiritually—getting too close to an affair, too cagey about some financial matter, distancing themselves from other Christians on the Lord’s day, too risqué in their jokes, too fond of red wine. Whatever the situation, a true friend will speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
As you read today’s passage and notes, some unpleasant memories of past experiences with friends may come to mind. Bring them before the Lord for forgiveness and healing.
Lord God, help me to speak the truth in love and not betray my friends. Help me to hear the friendship in other people’s honesty, too.
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