"Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy."
This is a brief rabbit trail before I write about the proverb quoted above.
My wife was walking one day on a trail in the mountains. I was behind her as I am so much older and slower than her. Suddenly I look up and see a mountain lion about to pounce on her from a large rock above her. I also see a bear coming though the trees to attack her. What is the loving thing to do? I would warn her loudly that she should get out of the way. Then the lion would pounce on the bear instead of my wife. This sounds like one of my wife's nightmares. But this nightmarish fictional story does help to illustrate the proverbs I want to write about.
Love compels us to warn people. We love people so we warn them about dangers. We warn our kids about crossing the roads or the boiling pot of soup. We warn about bad stores and bad merchandise. We warn others about con artists. We warn about diseases. We warn people because we don't want them to suffer harm. We don't want them to be hurt. We want them to avoid dangers. Warnings about the dangers of the world we can see are generally acceptable and appreciated. When we are warned we know that the person warning us cares about our well-being. But what about the dangers of sin?
Sin is dangerous too. Sin can have very terrible short term and long term consequences. Sin can have eternal consequences. Sin is far more dangerous than any wild animal or deadly poison. If we believe this, than wouldn't we want people to be warned about sin? Why are we often so quiet about the sins of others? If we really loved them, wouldn't we tell them the danger their sin is leading them into? The reason we don't is that our faith is weak and our love is weak. We don't really clearly see by faith the deadly effects of sin. Our love is weak towards others. We need to pray for greater faith and greater love.
True love will warn another about sin in their lives even if it hurts them. Rebukes wound us. They hurt our pride. We love our sin and are reluctant to give it up. But a true friend will rebuke anyway, even if it may result in losing a friend. The loving thing to do is to warn them about their sin because we know the danger of sin. We desire their spiritual health. A kind rebuke is indeed evidence of a good friend.
Let us warn others of their sin with humility and kindness and let us accept with graciousness the rebukes of others.