Tuesday, October 4, 2016
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When you eat in a hurry you sometimes leave some traces of the meal on your face, and you sort of wear your food. There are some crumbs maybe, or some tomato sauce, or this little spot of chocolate. Of course, you don't know it.
Now I have to eat on the run a lot of times, and that means sometimes you might be able to tell. Of course, I don't mean to carry it around with me. I mean, you know, my wife or my son in the past have told me that, "You know, you've got food on your face!" Well, I want to tell you it's embarrassing to hear, but I need to hear it. Of course I don't always say "thank you" to them. Sometimes I'll just say, "Oh, yeah, you know, I'm saving it for later." Yeah, right! Which doesn't seem to please them, but I have to say that I do clean it up after someone points it out to me. Of course, if I'm not looking my best, I'd rather hear it from someone who cares about me, right?
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I'd like to have A Word With You today about "Bad News From a Good Friend."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Proverbs 27:6 and here is what it says, "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." Now I don't like that word "wounds" first of all, do you? It's not a pleasurable word. But it says, "The wounds from a friend can be trusted." What makes these wounds bearable, this bad news that they're giving us, is that it's from someone who cares about us.
You know, it's like when someone in my family says, "Ron you've got food on your face," or someone you care about says, "Excuse me, but um, do you know you're unbuttoned?" or, "you're unzipped", or, "you've got a spot there." Now, look, do you like hearing that? No, it's not fun to hear it. But wouldn't you rather know than not know? Would you like those who love you to tell you even if it's not fun hearing it? Well, of course you would!
See, what's more important, is when we have emotional or spiritual (shall we say) food on our face. Our personality is unzipped, our personality is unbuttoned. If you care about someone, you will lovingly tell that person even the unpleasant, inconvenient truth, and if you're smart you'll respond appreciatively to bad news that comes from a good friend.
Now we're talking about constructive criticism here, not tearing someone down, but constructive criticism. The responsibility of a Christian friend is to hold up a mirror and say, "Man, look at your strengths. Do you know what you've got going for you? I love it when you do that. I love it when you do that." Then at other times it's our responsibility to say, "You know, here's something that might slow you down, that might keep good things from happening." It's okay to point our weaknesses if you've pointed out strengths. First, you tell them about what they're doing right. But then there are gentle ways to tell them about the other part. "I'm not sure you know how this comes across. I'm afraid it might sound this way to other people. Can I just let you know how that is?" Or, "I'm concerned about what this could do if it keeps happening. That's why I want to tell you about it." "Look, this is going to be hard for me to say and it's going to be hard for you to hear, but you know what? I love you enough to tell you this." Don't let your friends self destruct because you're afraid to tell them the truth.
The Bible talks about speaking the truth in love. And it says to let your speech always be seasoned with grace. Now, when you're the one receiving the criticism, will you listen? Will you find the grace to thank them for telling you? Then weigh what they've said even if maybe they're only ten percent right. Maybe you should look at the ten percent.
Ask for their prayer to ask you to help change in that area. Someone just loved you enough to tell you what someone should have told you maybe a long time ago. Don't jump on your friend. Don't jump on your family member for holding up a mirror. Don't stone the messenger. Deal with what is in the mirror that they held up. Don't attack them. See, if you're not looking your best, it's good to know that, and to hear it from someone who loves you enough to tell you.