READ: Psalm 98, Obadiah, John 2, Galatians 4
Real friends hurt each other. Paul asks the Galatians if he has become their enemy “because he tells them the truth” (Gal. 4:16). Obadiah points out that brothers who do not help each other will be judged harshly by God and the opposite of the Golden Rule will kick in: If you don’t help, you won’t be helped (Obadiah 11). Truth is the primary way faithful friends should wound each other–it is the help that hurts.
Enemies that tell us the truth serve as friends. Jesus reminded us that something is wrong with us when all people speak well of us. The human psyche needs accusers as much as we need supporters; an absence of either is damaging to the soul. If no one around us opposes our ideas, we soon succumb to the delusion that all our ideas are wise and all our ways in order. Voices that cry out against us are in the end voices of kindness. Often our enemies will be more truthful than our friends. If we have the humility to listen to our critics, there is often truth, or a measure of truth, in their accusations. The wise man listens carefully to those who do not like him, to those who do not agree with him, for their observations can refine both his arguments and his character. Enemies serve us by attacking our weaknesses.
Friends afraid to tell us the truth serve as enemies. We need friends to lovingly tell us what we do not know or cannot see about ourselves. Friends that leave us to our folly have in the end hated us. If we do not love our friends enough to disagree with them, to confront them, then we have not loved them at all. If we do not tell our lost friends that they are lost, we have committed the most damaging of hate crimes. If friendship evangelism means that we do not speak truth about the gospel, hell, heaven, and repentance for weeks, months, and years, because we are waiting for just the right moment, we have loved too little, not too much. We would never allow a friend to leave our immediate presence with his zipper down or with smeared make-up on her face; if there is a discernible natural blemish on a friend, we immediately tell them.
Pointing out that humanity has sinned and rebelled against the Lord is love speech. The devil bullies us into silence, twisted what is loving proclamation into “hate speech,” and we must love the lost enough to withstand their own anger at our observations. We must love both friend and enemy enough to bear their wrath. Very few enjoy being loved in this way (i.e. told that they are wrong), yet it is a deep form of love that helps others despite their wrath. Real love wounds one another in the short term for the hope of long-term life.