Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
The course of a friendship should be a natural progression from the strange to the familiar. When two people first get to know one another, there is a lot to learn. Then, as they spend more time together and grow in their friendship, they begin to really know one another. The only way this can happen is if they are willing to be transparent and vulnerable. When we think of the difference between a friend and an acquaintance, the difference is closeness. We allow certain people to approach while keeping others at a distance. Transparency allows our friends to know who we truly are, and vulnerability allows them to help make us better.
I have received words of correction from close friends which I would not have received from most people. Those words might have hurt my ego, but I understood that these friends were simply being faithful in holding me accountable. Their goal was to make me better. I opened up and allowed them to see me deeply, which gives unique insight to a person, and this requires trust. That intimacy is not achieved without trust, and those corrective words are not received without trust. This is why discernment in entering friendships is so important. These relationships open us up to spiritual influence, and we want to make sure that those who help guide our spirits are godly.
I would prefer a rebuke founded in love than a smile crafted in deceit any day. We do not want to surround ourselves with “yes men” who simply placate us but do not help us grow. One purpose of our Christian friendships is spiritual growth. We should desire to help one another become more like the Lord, which can require difficult conversations, but that is a good thing. What is worse is leaving one another to our errors and sinful ways because it is easier than being a real friend. Father, help us to foster our current friendships to enjoy the transparency and vulnerability they require, and bring us new friends in whom we can speak words of life.